Class of 1900
The subsequent walk across the plaza with the hard-won
bundle, beneath the appreciative eyes of the
whole town, had been humiliating "
McCLURE, PHILLIPS & CO.
Copyright, 1906, by
McCLURE, PHILLIPS & CO.
Published, September, 1906
Copyright, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, by The S. S. McClure Company
I. THE JUDGMENT OF MAN ....... 3
II. THE MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG ..... 27
III. HER READING .......... 52
IV. THE STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH OF
IsiDRO DE LOS MAESTROS ..... 74
V. THE FAILURE .......... 98
VI. SOME BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION. . . . .124.
VII. A JEST OF THE GODS ....... 153
VIII. THE COMING OF THE MAESTRA ..... 178
IX. CAYBIGAN ........... 202
X. THE CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO ..... 226
XL THE MANANGETE ......... 257
XII. THE PAST ......... . . 267
XIII. THE PREROGATIVE ......... 277
XIV. THE CONFLUENCE ......... 289
XV. THE CALL =331
THE JUDGMENT OF MAN
were sitting around the big centre table in the
sala of the " House of Guests " in Ilo-Ilo. We were
teachers from Occidental Negros. It was near Christ
mas ; we had left our stations for the holidays the
cholera had just swept them and the aftermath was
not pleasant to contemplate and so we were leaning
over the polished narra table, sipping a sweet, false
Spanish wine from which we drew, not a convivial
spirit, but rather a quiet, reflective gloom. All the
shell shutters were drawn back ; we could see the tin-
roofed city gleam and crackle with the heat, and
beyond the lithe line of coconuts, the iridescent sea.
tugging the heart with offer of coolness. But, all of
us, we knew the promise to be Fake, monumental Fake,
knew the alluring depths to be hot as corruption, and
full of sharks.
Somebody in a monotonous voice was cataloguing
the dead, enumerating those of us who had been con
quered by the climate, by the work, or through their
own inward flaws. He mentioned Miller with some
sort of disparaging gesture, and then Carter of
Balangilang, who had been very silent, suddenly
burst into speech with singular fury.
"Who are you, to judge him?" he shouted.
"Who are you, eh? Who are we, any way ? to judge
Headlong outbursts from Carter were nothing new
to us, so we took no offence. Finally someone said,
" Well, he s dead," with that tone that signifies final
judgment, the last, best, most charitable thing which
can be said of the man being weighed.
But Carter did not stop there. " You didn t know
him, did you ? " he asked. " You didn t know him ;
tell me now, did you know him? " He was still extra
We did not answer. Really, we knew little of the
dead man excepting that he was mean and small,
and not worth knowing. He was mean, and he was a
coward ; and to us in our uncompromising youth these
were just the unpardonable sins. Because of that we
had left him alone, yes, come to think of it, very much
alone. And we knew little about him.
" Here, I ll tell you what I know," Carter began
again, in a more conciliatory tone ; " I ll tell you
everything I know of him." He lit a cheroot.
" I first met him right here in Ilo-Ilo. I had crossed
over for supplies ; he was fresh from Manila and
THE JUDGMENT OF MAN 5
wanted to get over to Bacolod to report to the Sup.
and be assigned to his station. When I saw him he
was on the muelle, surrounded by an army of bluffing
cargadores. About twelve of them had managed to
get a finger upon his lone carpet-bag while it was
being carried down the gang-plank, and each and all
of them wanted to get paid for the job. He was in a
horrible pickle; couldn t speak a word of Spanish or
Visayan. And the first thing he said when I had
extricated him, thanks to my vituperative knowledge
of these sweet tongues, was : If them niggahs, seh,
think Ah m a-goin to learn their cussed lingo, they re
mahtily mistaken, seh !
" After that remark, coming straight from the
heart, I hardly needed to be told that he was from
the South. He was from Mississippi. He was gaunt,
yellow, malarial, and slovenly. He had c teached for
twenty years, he said, but in spite of this there was
about him something indescribably rural, something
of the sod not the dignity, the sturdiness of it, but
rather of the pettiness, the sordidness of it. It showed
in his dirty, flapping garments, his unlaced shoes,
his stubble beard, in his indecent carelessness in
expectorating the tobacco he was ceaselessly chewing.
But these, after all, were some of his minor traits.
I was soon to get an inkling of one of his major ones
his prodigious meanness. For when I rushed about
and finally found a lorcha that was to sail for Bacolod
and asked him to chip in with me on provisions, he
" Ah d like to git my own, seh, he said in that
decisive drawl of his.
" All right, I said cheerfully, and went off and
stocked up for two. My instinct served me well.
When, that evening, Miller walked up the gang
plank, he carried only his carpet-bag, and that was
flat and hungry-looking as before. The next morning
he shared my provisions calmly and resolutely, with
an air, almost, of conscious duty. Well, let that go ;
before another day I was face to face with his other
" Out of Ilo-Ilo we had contrary winds at first ;
all night the lorcha an old grandmother of a craft,
full of dry-rot spots as big as woodpeckers nests
flapped heavily about on impotent tacks, and when
the sun rose we found ourselves on the same spot from
which we had watched its setting. Toward ten o clock,
however, the monsoon veered, and wing-and-wing the
old boat, creaking in every joint as if she had the
dengue, grunted her way over flashing combers with
a speed that seemed almost indecent. Then, just as
we were getting near enough to catch the heated
glitter of the Bacolod church-dome, to see the golden
thread of breach at the foot of the waving coconuts.
THE JUDGMENT OF MAN 7
the wind fell, slap-bang, as suddenly as if God had
said hush and we stuck there, motionless, upon a
" I didn t stamp about and foam at the mouth ;
I d been in these climes too long. As for Miller, he
was from Mississippi. We picked out a comparatively
clean spot on the deck, near the bow ; we lay down
on our backs and relaxed our beings into infinite
patience. We had been thus for perhaps an hour ;
I was looking up at a little white cloud that seemed
receding, receding into the blue immensity behind it.
Suddenly a noise like thunder roared in my ears. The
little cloud gave a great leap back into its place ; the
roar dwindled into the voice of Miller, in plaintive,
disturbed drawl. What the deuce are the niggahs
doing? he was saying.
" And certainly the behaviour of that Visayan
crew was worthy of question. Huddled quietly at the
stern, one after another they were springing over
the rail into the small boat that was dragging behind,
and even as I looked the last man disappeared with
the painter in his hand. At the same moment I became
aware of a strange noise. Down in the bowels of the
lorcha a weird, gentle commotion was going on, a
multitudinous gluck-gluck as of many bottles being
emptied. A breath of hot, musty air w r as sighing out
of the hatch. Then the sea about the poop began to
rise, to rise slowly, calmly, steadily, like milk in a
" By the powers, I shouted, the old tub is going
" It was true. There, upon the sunlit sea, beneath
the serene sky, silently, weirdly, unprovoked, the old
boat, as if weary, was sinking in one long sigh of
lassitude. And we, of course, were going with it. A
few yards away from the sternpost was the jolly-
boat with the crew. I looked at them, and in my heart
I could not condemn them for their sly departure;
they were all there, arraiz, wife, children, and crew,
so heaped together that they seemed only a meaning
less tangle of arms and legs and heads ; the water was
half an inch from the gunwale, and the one man at
the oars, hampered, paralysed on all sides, was splash
ing helplessly while the craft pivoted like a top.
There was no anger in my heart, yet I was not abso
lutely reconciled to the situation. I searched the deck
with my eyes, then from the jolly-boat the arraiz
obligingly yelled, El biroto, el biroto !
" And I remembered the rotten little canoe lashed
amidships. It didn t take us long to get it into the
water (the water by that time was very close at hand).
I went carefully into it first so as to steady it for Mil
ler, and then, both of us at once, we saw that it would
hold only one. The bottom, a hollowed log, was
THE JUDGMENT OF MAN 9
staunch enough, but the sides, made of pitched bam
boo lattice, were sagging and torn. It would hold
" Well, who is it? I asked. In my heart there
was no craven panic, but neither was there sacrifice.
Some vague idea was in my mind, of deciding who
should get the place by some game of chance, tossing
up a coin, for instance.
" But Miller said, * Ah cain t affawd to take
chances, seh ; you must git out.
" He spoke calmly, with great seriousness, but
without undue emphasis as one enunciating an
uncontrovertible natural law. I glanced up into his
face, and it was in harmony with his voice. He didn t
seem particularly scared; he was serious, that s all;
his eyes were set in that peculiar, wide-pupilled stare
of the man contemplating his own fixed idea.
" No, seh ; Ah cain t affawd it, he repeated.
" The absurdity of the thing suddenly tingled in
me like wine. * All right ! I shouted, in a contagion
of insanity ; all right, take the darned thing !
" And I got out. I got out and let him step stiffly
into the boat, which I obligingly sent spinning from
the lorcha with one long, strong kick. Then I was
alone on the deck, which suddenly looked immense,
stretched on all sides, limitless as loneliness itself. A
heavy torpor fell from the skies and amid this general
silence, this immobility, the cabin door alone seemed
to live, live in weird manifestation. It had been left
open, and now it was swinging and slamming to and
fro jerkily, and shuddering from top to bottom. Half
in plan, half in mere irritation at this senseless, in
cessant jigging, I sprang toward it and with one
nervous pull tore it, hinge and all, from the rotten
woodwork. I heaved it over the side, went in head
first after it, took a few strokes and lay, belly-down,
upon it. Just then the lorcha began to rise by the
head ; the bowsprit went up slowly like a finger point
ing solemnly to heaven ; then, without a sound, almost
instantaneously, the whole fabric disappeared. Across
the now unoccupied space Miller and I rushed
smoothly toward each other, as if drawn by some
gigantic magnet ; our crafts bumped gently, like two
savages caressingly rubbing noses ; they swung apart
a little and lay side by side, undulating slightly.
" And we remained there, little black specks upon
the flashing sea. Two hundred yards away was the
lorcha s boat; they had reshuffled themselves more
advantageously and were pulling slowly toward land.
Not twenty feet from me Miller sat upright in his
canoe as if petrified. I was not so badly off. The door
floated me half out of water, and that was lukewarm,
so I knew that I could stand it a long time. What
bothered me, though, was that the blamed raft was
THE JUDGMENT OF MAN 11
not long enough; that is, the upper part of my
body being heavier, it took more door to support it,
so that my feet were projecting beyond the lower
edge, and every second or so the nibbling of some
imaginary shark sent them flying up into the air in
undignified gymnastics. The consoling part of it was
that Miller was paying no notice. He still sat up,
rigid, in his canoe, clutching the sides stiffly and look
ing neither to right nor left. From where I lay I
could see the cords of his neck drawn taut, and his
knuckles showing white.
" * Why the deuce don t you paddle to shore? I
shouted at length, taking a sudden disgust of the
" He did not turn his head as he answered. * Ah
Ah, he stammered, the words coming hard as hic
coughs out of his throat ; Ah don t know haow.
" Drop the sides of your boat and try, I
" He seemed to ponder carefully over this for a
while. Ah think it s safer to stay this-a-way, he
" But, good lord, man, I cried, angry at this
calm stupidity ; if that s what you re going to do,
you d better get on this door here and let me take
the boat. I ll paddle ashore and come back for
" He turned his head slowly. He contemplated my
raft long, carefully, critically.
" Ah think Ah ll be safer heyah, seh, he decided.
It s a little bit o old door, and Ah reckon they s a
heap of sharks around.
" After that I had little to say. Given the premises
of the man his conclusions- were unquestionable. And
the premises were a selfishness so tranquil, so ingenu
ous, so fresh, I might say, that I couldn t work up
the proper indignation. It was something so perfect
as to challenge admiration. On the whole, however,
it afforded a poor subject for conversation; so we
remained there, taciturn, I on my door, half-sub
merged in the tepid water, my heels flung up over my
back, he in his dugout, rigid, his hands clutching the
sides as if he were trying to hold up the craft out
of the liquid abyss beneath.
" And thus we were still when, just as the sun was
setting sombrely 9 a velos full of chattering natives
picked us up. They landed us at Bacolod, and Miller
left me to report to the Sup. I departed before
sun-up the next morning for my station. I didn t
want to see Miller again.
" But I did. One night he came floundering through
my pueblo. It was in the middle of the rainy season.
He wasn t exactly caked with mud ; rather, he seemed
to ooze it out of every pore. He had been assigned
THE JUDGMENT OF MAN 13
to Binalbagan, ten miles further down. I stared when
he told me this, Binalbagan was the worst post on
the island, a musty, pestilential hole with a sullenly
hostile population, and he well, inefficiency was
branded all over him in six-foot letters. I tried to
stop him over night, but he would not do it, and I
saw him splash off in the darkness, gaunt, yellow,
" I saw little of him after that. I was busy estab
lishing new barrio-schools which were to give me
excuses for long horseback rides of inspection. I
felt his presence down there in that vague way by
which you are aware of a person behind your back
without turning around. Rumours of his doings
reached me. He was having a horrible time. On the
night of his arrival he had been invited to dinner by
the Presidente. a kind old primitive soul, but when he
found that he was expected to sit at the table with
the family, he had stamped off, indignant, saying
that he didn t eat with no niggers. As I ve said
before, the town was hostile, and this attitude
did not help matters much. He couldn t get the
school moneys out of the Tesorero an unmitigated
rascal but that did not make much difference, for
he had no pupils anyhow. He couldn t speak a word
of Spanish; no one in the town, of course, knew any
English he must have been horribly lonely. He
began to wear camisas, like the natives. That s always
a bad sign. It shows that the man has discovered
that there is no one to care how he dresses that is,
that there is no longer any public opinion. It indi
cates something subtly worse that the man has
ceased looking at himself, that the 7 has ceased criti
cising, judging, stiffening up the me in other words,
that there is no longer any conscience. That white
suit, I tell you, is a wonderful moral force ; the white
suit, put on fresh every morning, heavily starched,
buttoned up to the chin, is like an armour, ironclad-
ding you against the germ of decay buzzing about
you, ceaselessly vigilant for the little vulnerable spot.
Miller wore camisas, and then he began to go without
shoes. I saw that myself. I was riding through his
pueblo on my way to Dent s, and I passed his school.
I looked into the open door as my head bobbed by
at the height of the stilt-raised floor. He was in his
camisa and barefooted; his long neck stretched out
of the collarless garment with a mournful, stork-
like expression. Squatting on the floor were three
trouserless, dirt-incrusted boys ; he was pointing at
a chart standing before their eyes, and all together
they were shouting some word that exploded away
down in their throats in tremendous effort and never
seemed to reach their lips. I called out and waved my
hand as I went by, and when I looked back, a hundred
THE JUDGMENT OF MAN 15
yards farther, I saw that he had come out and was
standing upon the bamboo platform outside of the
door, gaping after me with his chin thrown forward
in that mournful, stork-like way I should have gone
" With him, I must say, the camisa did not mean
all that I have suggested, not the sort of degradation
of which it is the symbol in other men. The most
extravagant imagination could not have linked him
with anything that smacked of romance, romance
however sordid. His vices, I had sized it, would come
rather from an excess of calculation than from a lack
of it. No, that camisa was just a sign of his mean
ness, his prodigious meanness. And of that I was
soon given an extraordinary example.
" I had with me a young fellow named Ledesma,
whom I was training to be assistant maestro. He was
very bright, thirsty to learn, and extremely curious
of us white men. I don t believe that the actions of
one of them, for fifty miles around, over escaped him,
and every day he came to me with some talk, some
rumour, some gossip about my fellow-exiles which he
would relate to me with those strange interrogative
inflections that he had brought from his native dia
lect into English as if perpetually he were seeking
explanation, confirmation. One morning he said to
me : The maestro Miller, he does not eat.
" No? I answered, absent-mindedly.
" No, he never eats, he reiterated authoritatively,
although that peculiar Visayan inflection of which
I have spoken gave him the air of asking a
" Oh, I suppose he does, I said, carelessly.
" * He does not eat, he repeated. Everyone in
Binalbagan say so. Since he there, he has not bought
anything at the store.
" * His muchachos bring him chicken, I suggested.
" No, senor; he very funny ; he has no muchachos,
not one muchacho has he.
" 6 Well, he probably has canned provisions sent
" No, senor ; the cargadores they say that never,
never have they carried anything for him. He does
" Very well, I concluded, somewhat amused ; he
does not eat.
" The boy was silent for a minute, then, * Senor
Maestro, he asked with suspicious ingenuousness,
can Americans live without eating?
" So that I was not able to drop the subject as
easily as I wished. And coming to a forced consid
eration of it, I found that my anxiety to do so was
not very beautiful after all. A picture came to me
that of Miller on his bamboo platform before his
THE JUDGMENT OF MAN 17
door, gazing mournfully after me, his chin thrown
forward. It did not leave me the day long, and at
sundown I saddled up and trotted off toward
" I didn t reach the pueblo that night, however.
Only a mile from it I plunged out of the moonlight
into the pitch darkness of a hollow lane cutting
through Don Jaime s hacienda. Banana palms
were growing thick to right and left; the way was
narrow and deep it was a fine place for cutthroats,
but that evocation had lost much of its romantic
charm from the fact that, not three weeks before,
an actual cutthroating had taken place, a Chinese
merchant having been boloed by tusilanes. Well, I
was trotting through, my right hand somewhat close
to my holster, when from the right, close, there came
a soft, reiterated chopping noise. I pulled up my
pony. The sound kept up a discreet, persistent
chopping; then I saw, up above, the moonlit top of
a palm shuddering, though all about it the others
remained motionless, petrified as if of solid silver. It
was a very simple thing after all: someone in there
was cutting down a palm to get bananas, an occupa
tion very common in the Philippines, and very pacific,
in spite of the ominous air given to it by the gigantic
bolo used. However, something prompted me to draw
the midnight harvester out.
" * Heh, ladron, what are you doing there? I
shouted in dialect.
" There was a most sudden silence. The chopping
ceased, the palm stopped vibrating. A vague form
bounded down the lane, right up against my horse s
nose, rolled over, straightened up again, and van
ished into the darkness ahead. Unconsciously I
spurred on after it. For a hundred yards I galloped
with nothing in sight. Then I caught a rapid view
of the thing as it burst through a shaft of moonlight
piercing the glade, and it showed as a man, a gro
tesque figure of a man in loose white pantaloons. He
was frightened, horribly frightened, all hunched up
with the frenzy to escape. An indistinct bundle was
on his right shoulder. Like a curtain the dark
snapped shut behind him again, but I urged on with
a wild halloo, my blood all a-tingle with the exulta
tion of the chase. I gained he must have been a
lamentable runner, for my poor little pony was stag
gering under my tumultuous weight. I could hear
him pant and sob a few yards in advance; then he
came into sight, a dim, loping whiteness ahead.
Suddenly the bundle left his shoulder; something
rolled along the ground under my horse s hoofs
and I was standing on my head in a soft, oozy place.
I was mad, furiously mad. I picked myself up, went
back a few yards and, taking my pony by the nose,
THE JUDGMENT OF MAN 19
picked him up. A touch of his throbbing flanks, how
ever, warned me as I was putting my foot into the
stirrup. I left him there and thundered on foot down
the lane. I have said I was mad. Yip-yip-yah-ah,
yip-yip-yah-ah, I yelled as I dashed on a yell I had
heard among California cattlemen. It must have par
alysed that flying personage, for I gained upon him
shockingly. I could hear him pant, a queer, patient
panting, a sigh rather, a gentle, lamenting sighing,
and the white camisa flapped ghostily in the dark
ness. Suddenly he burst out of obscurity, past the
plantation, into the glaring moonlight. And I I
stopped short, went down on my hands and knees,
and crouched back into the shadow. For the man
running was Miller ; Miller, wild, sobbing, dishevelled,
his shoulders drawn up to his ears in terrible weari
ness, his whole body taut with fear, and scudding,
scudding away, low along the ground, his chin for
ward, mournful as a stork. Soon he was across the
luminous space, and then he disappeared into the
darkness on the other side, flopped head first into it
as if hiding his face in a pillow.
" I returned slowly to my horse. He was standing
where I had left him, his four legs far apart in a
wide base. Between them was the thing cast off by
Miller which had thrown us. I examined it by the
light of a box of matches. It was a bunch of bananas,
one of those gigantic clusters which can be cut from
the palms. I got on my horse and rode back home.
" I didn t go to see .him any more. A man who will
steal bananas in a country where they can be bought
a dozen for one cent is too mean to be worth visiting.
I had another reason, too. It had dawned on me that
Miller probably did not care to see any of us, that
he had come down to a mode of life which would not
leave him appreciative of confrontations with past
standards. It was almost charity to leave him to
" So I left him to himself, and he lived on in his
pestilential little hole, alone lived a life more squalid
every day. It wasn t at all a healthy life, you can
understand, no healthier physically than morally.
After a while I heard that he was looking bad, yellow
as a lemon and the dengue cracking at his bones. I
began to think of going to him after all, of jerking
him out of his rut by force, if necessary, making him
respect the traditions of his race. But just then came
that Nichols affair, and flaring, his other bad side
his abject cowardice reappeared to me. You remem
ber the Nichols thing boloed in the dark between
my town and Himamaylan. His muchacho had
jumped into the ditch. Afterward he got out and
ran back the whole way, fifteen miles, to my place.
I started down there. My idea was to pick up Miller
THE JUDGMENT OF MAN 21
as I passed, then Dent a little further down, find the
body, and perhaps indications for White of the con
stabulary to whom I had sent a messenger and who
could not reach the place till morning. Well, Miller
refused to go. He had caught hold of some rumour of
the happening ; he was barricaded in his hut and was
sitting on his bed, a big Colt s revolver across his
knees. He would not go, he said it plainly. No, seh ;
Ah cain t take chances; Ah cain t affawd it. He
said this without much fire, almost tranquilly, exactly
as he had, you remember, at the time of our ship
wreck. It was not so amusing now, however. Here,
on land, amid this swarming, mysterious hostility, at
this crisis, it seemed a shocking betrayal of the soli
darity that bound us all white men. A red rage took
possession of me. I stood there above him and poured
out vituperation for five good minutes. I found the
most extraordinary epithets ; I lowered my voice and
pierced him with venomous thrusts. He took it all.
He remained seated on his bed, his revolver across his
knees, looking straight at some spot on the floor;
whenever I d become particularly effective he d merely
look harder at the spot, as if for him it contained
something of higher significance a command, a rule,
a precept I don t know what, and then he d say,
No, Ah cain t ; Ah cain t affawd it.
" I burst out of there, a-roar like a bombshell. I
rode down to Dent ; we rode down to the place and did
what there was to be done. Miller, I never wanted
to see again.
" But I did. Some three weeks later a carrier came
to me with a note a pencilled scrawl upon a torn
piece of paper. It read:
I think I am dying. Can you come see me ?
" I went down right away. He was dead. He had
died there, alone, in his filthy little hut, in that God
forsaken pueblo, ten miles from the nearest white
man, ten thousand miles from his home. He had died
there all alone.
" I ll always remember our coming in. It was night.
It had been raining for thirty-six hours, and as we
stepped into the unlighted hut, my muchacho and I,
right away the floor grew sticky and slimy with the
mud on our feet, and as we groped about blindly, we
seemed ankle-deep in something greasy and abom
inable like gore. After a while the boy got a torch out
side, and as he flared it I caught sight of Miller on
his cot, backed up into one corner. He was sitting
upright, staring straight ahead and a little down,
as if in careful consideration. As I stepped toward
him the pliable bamboo floor undulated; the move-
THE JUDGMENT OF MAN 23
ment was carried to him and he began to nod, very
gently and gravely. He seemed to be saying : 6 No,
Ah cain t affawd it. It was atrocious. Finally I was
by his side and he was again motionless, staring
thoughtfully. Then I saw what he was considering.
In his hands, which lay twined on his knees, were a
lot of little metallic oblongs. I disengaged them.
The muchacho drew nearer, and with the torch over
my shoulder I examined them. They were photo
graphs, cheap tintypes. The first was of a woman,
a poor being, sagging with overwork, a lamentable
baby in her arms. The other pictures were of chil
dren six of them, boys and girls, of all ages from
twelve to three, and under each, in painful chirog-
raphy, a name was written Lee Miller, Amy Miller,
Geraldine Miller, and so on.
" You don t understand, do you? For a moment I
didn t understand. I stared stupidly at those tin
types, shuffled and reshuffled them; the torch roared
in my ear. Then, suddenly, understanding came to
me; it came sharp as a pang. He had a wife and
children seven children.
" A simple fact, wasn t it, a commonplace one,
almost vulgar, you might say. And yet what a
change of view produced by it, what a dislocation of
judgment! I was like a man riding through a strange
country, in a storm, at night. It is dark, he cannot
see, he has never seen the country, yet as he rides on
he begins to picture to himself the surroundings, his
imagination builds for him a landscape a mountain
there, a river here, wind-streaming trees over there
and right away it exists, it is, it has solidity, mass,
life. Then suddenly comes a flash of lightning, a
second of light, and he is astounded, absolutely
astounded to see the real landscape different from
that indestructible thing that his mind had built.
Thus it was with me. I had judged, oh, I had judged
him thoroughly, sized him up to a certainty, and
bang, came the flare of this new fact, this extremely
commonplace fact, and I was all off, all off. I must
begin to judge again, only it would never do that
man any good.
" A hundred memories came back to me, glared at
me in the illumination of that new fact. I remem
bered the camisa, the bare feet. I saw him running
down the lane with his bunch of stolen bananas. I
recalled that absurd scene on the waters ; I heard him
say : No, seh ; Ah cain t aff awd to take chances ; Ah
cain t affawd it.
" Of course he couldn t afford it. Think a wife
and seven children !
" That night I went through his papers, putting
things in order, and from every leaf, every scrap,
came corroboration of the new fact. It was easy
THE JUDGMENT OF MAN 25
enough to patch up his life. He was one of those
pitiful pedagogues of the rural South, shiftless,
half-educated, inefficient. He had never been able
to earn much, and his family had always gently
starved. Then had come the chance, the golden
chance the Philippines and a thousand a year.
He had taken the bait, had come ten thou
sand miles to the spot of his maximum value.
Only, things had not gone quite right. Thanks
to the beautiful red-tape of the department, three
months had gone before he had received his first
month s pay. Then it had come in Mex., and
when he had succeeded in changing it into gold it had
dwindled to sixty dollars. Of course, he had sent it
all back, for even then it would take it six more
weeks to reach its destination, and sixty dollars is
hardly too much to tide over five months for a family
of eight. These five months had to be caught up in
some way, so every month his salary, depreciated ten
per cent, by the change, had gone across the waters.
He wore camisas and no shoes, he stole bananas.
And his value, shoeless, camisa-clothed, was sixty dol
lars a month. He was just so much capital. He had
to be careful of that capital.
" Ah cain t afFawd to take chances ; Ah cain t
affawd it. Of course he couldn t.
" And so he had fought on blindly, stubbornly,
and, at last, with that pitiful faculty we have, all
of us, of defeating our own plans, he had killed him
self, he had killed the capital, the golden goose.
" Yes, I found confirmation, but, after all, I did
not need it. I had learned it all ; understanding had
come to me, swift, sharp, vital as a pang, when in
the roaring light of the torch I had looked upon the
pale little tintypes, the tintypes of Lee and Amy
and Jackson and Geraldine."
THE MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG
THE Maestro of Balangilang opened the door of his
nipa-hut and started down the crazy bamboo ladder
on his way to the school. It was early. The sun was
pumping back the water that had fallen through the
night, and the grass-dishevelled common, the palm-
groves about, the musty mountains to the east, the
whole landscape, steamed like one great cauldron.
Caribaos were wallowing in the mudholes, a dozen
dogs were fighting at the church portals, a stream of
brownies were pouring into the schoolhouse, and, in
front of the cuartel, the company of native scouts
were going through scientific evolutions.
The Maestro stopped at the bottom of the steps
and took in the scene with a wistful attempt at admi
ration. A vague discouragement oozed into his soul,
but he shook himself vigorously and started across.
Through the viscid atmosphere he cut his way in
sprightly fashion. His long legs snapped back and
forth like springs. At regular intervals his chest
swelled ; it remained puffed out like that of a pouter-
pigeon while he took twenty steps, then collapsed
with the hollow report of an air gun. He was finish
ing up his morning calisthenics.
As he reached the centre of the plaza an unfamiliar
object stopped him abruptly. It was only a cross, a
rough cross made of two pieces of bamboo fastened
at right angles with bejuca and stuck into the ground,
but it seemed to have meaning to the Maestro. He
walked up close to it and examined it carefully. He
was disappointed for a moment ; then his fingers,
passing along the horizontal piece, touched a thorn
stuck like a nail in the axis of the cross. Holding his
breath, for it was not yet time to exhale, he nodded
knowingly and his eyes searched the ground about
him. They soon, lit upon what he wanted. He
pounced upon a bunch of wild palay, stooped, and
was up again with something white in his hand.
It was a piece of paper, limp and bespattered with
the night s rain, but on which characters in native
Visayan were still visible. The Maestro pored over
it closely, then his pent-up breath exploded.
" Papa Isio," he exclaimed gaily. " The Mad Pope
is coming to see us."
He stopped, with thought upon his brow.
" I lost my home and punching-bag at it once,"
he said, musingly. " Well, we ll give him a scrim
mage this time."
After which somewhat incoherent remark he folded
MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG 29
the sodden bit of paper carefully into his pocket, took
a new deep breath, and walked on. As he approached
the drilling company of scouts he saw with pleasure
that Lieutenant Roberts was back from his tour of
inspection and was at their head.
" Hello, Roberts," he shouted, with easy cordiality,
as he came within hearing distance. " Hello, Roberts,
old man; putting the boys through signal-prac
tice, eh? "
The officer, who had just assumed a fine attitude
arms folded at the height of the chin, legs glued
together in a gracefully curved column, chest pro
jected forward till it threw a shadow upon the
ground did not respond with effusion.
" Present Hums ! " he said. " Carr-ie-ie Hums !
The Maestro took off his cap and, raising his
freckled face to heaven, shook his head vigorously.
A wealth of carrot-red hair parted at the crown
and cascaded down the temples; and with the thus
restored vision of two green eyes he observed the
performance of the little brown soldiers criti
" Pretty fine, Lieut," he said, encouragingly.
" Very fair team-work ; they ll do. You ought to see
what / ve taught them, though. I ll show you after
drill. It s something scrumptious."
" Parade Rest ! Attentio-ion ! Port Hums !
Shoulder Hums ! " said the officer.
" Yes, they ll do for signal-practice all right,"
resumed the youth, in soothing, patronising tones.
" But," he went on, with a little of suggestive crit
icism in his voice, " what about the real thing, Lieut?
What about their shooting, eh? I m blest if I ve ever
seen them discharge anything except blanks, have
"Fours right March! Column left!"
" Hep, hep, hep," came the column straight for the
schoolmaster. The Lieutenant was muttering some
thing in his mustache that sounded like a benediction.
For a long six months, since the organisation of the
company, a prudent government had denied his
pleadings for permission to give his men target prac
tice. The Scouts were an experiment, and there was
a vague feeling that they should not be taught too
"Why is that, Roberts?" persisted the Maestro,
calmly dodging the advancing phalanx and dropping
into the confidential manner. " Why don t you let
them shoot? Are you afraid that they might begin
on your broad back? Are you "
A sudden start of pain closed his mouth. The Lieu
tenant had quietly planted his heel, in passing, upon
the Educational toe, crushing down upon it with all
MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG 31
the enthusiasm of two hundred pounds a-thrill with
The Maestro s eyes followed the officer, marching
at the side of his company. His mouth opened in a
broad grin that displayed a startling vacuum where
once had been two good teeth, now lying peacefully
on the sod of the old Berkeley gridiron.
" Guess it s school-time," he said.
He sprinted fifty yards, leaped an eighteen-foot
ditch, hurdled a little goat, bucked a carabao around
till its tail was where its head had been, and bounded
into the schoolroom.
Two hundred brown ninos sprang to their feet.
" Guda morrneen," they howled, in unison.
" Good-morning," answered the Maestro, briskly.
" Come, let s get at this. No shirking, quick ! Arm
exercise! One, two; one, two."
He led them through a furious set of exercises in
which he himself took part enthusiastically, the per
spiration cascading down his nose.
" You poor, scrawny weaklings," he said, at last,
beaming upon the breathless little assemblage.
" Never you mind ; I ll make men of you."
Then he started to go. " Give them reading," he
shouted to his native assistant from the door, " and
breathing exercises every half hour."
But he came back, on an after-thought, and placed
under the nose of his faithful colleague the piece of
sodden paper he had picked up on the plaza.
The man s skin went yellow beneath the brown.
" Papa Isio," he whispered.
" Just what I thought," said the Maestro, nodding
to himself. " And he says he is coming here, doesn t
" Yes, sir. He will come and burn the pueblo.
That is the way he burned Cabayan last year."
" Gol darn it, don t I know it?" ejaculated the
pedagogue, fiercely. " And didn t I lose my brand-new
seven-dollar Spalding punching-bag ? Well, we ll set
him on his head this time."
" Yes, sir," meekly answered the assistant, who
had not caught the full import of the explosive
But the maestro did not hear him. He was
out already and making his way to the cuartel.
Roberts was dismissing the company when he
" Hello, you take them now," said the officer, as
he saw the Maestro Professor of Military Gymnas
tics also, by common consent near him. " And, by
the way," he added, with suppressed glee, " how s
the toe? "
The Maestro did not answer. He was working at
the inside of his khaki jacket. With some trouble
MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG 33
he drew out a flat, oblong box. From this he took a
piece of yellow leather and a shining object that
looked like a bicycle pump. He inserted the mouth
of the pump into a hole in the leather and worked the
handle up and down in rapid movement. The thing
began to swell and take shape. Finally it looked like
a great leather egg. He threw it on the ground,
toward one of the loafing soldiers, and the latter, as
an automaton worked by some powerful spring,
hurled himself headfirst at it, grasped it inside of
both arms, and lay on it, while the rest of the com
pany poured upon him in an avalanche.
" How s that, eh? " asked the schoolmaster, turn
ing upon the Lieutenant an eye that winked.
He did not wait for an answer. At a signal the
company had formed into a long, crouching line. He
placed himself behind it, took a quick step, and
booted the pigskin a resounding whack. At the sound
the whole line galloped off in ferocious pursuit, and
when, after describing a beautiful parabola, the ball
bumped along the ground, it was smothered at the
second bounce beneath the gross weight of the
" And how s that ? " asked the Maestro, in tone
still more compelling.
He turned to his men. " The Varsity," he called,
a trifle pompously.
Eleven men stood out from the rest and lined up
in a team.
" Six, eight, fifteen ! " he shouted.
The team went through the pantomime of a fierce
mass on centre.
" Four, fifteen, twenty-two."
The team swirled around in an end-run.
Then he hurled signals at them, and, in quick suc
cession, with a tangle here and there, it is true, they
went through an entire repertory cross tackle
bucks, straight openings, tandems, kangaroos, re
volving masses, double and delayed passes, fake kicks.
They massed and bucked the air about as if it
offered no resistance. It was beautiful to see.
" And now, behold ! " said the engineer of this fine
performance, pausing solemnly.
He drew a line in the earth with his heel and placed
the ball upon it. The quarterback took his position
near the ball and the rest of the team gathered some
twenty yards away.
" Five, twenty-four, six X ! " barked the Maestro.
There was a rapid movement among the men, and
then they shot out in a long V. On the walk at first,
then on the trot, then at full gallop the V swept down
toward the line. The quarterback stooped, picked
up the ball, and dexterously passed it as the forma
tion thundered down upon him. The ball disappeared,
MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG 35
swallowed up within the V, which, passing the line
with tremendous impetus, rumbled on like a battering-
ram to a glorious touch-down.
" The flying wedge," announced the Maestro, in
the tone of the knickerbockered flunkey ushering his
Grace, the Lord Hunter of the Billion Mark, into the
Reception Hall. " Barred out in the States, but,
lordy, we re so far way, and it s such a good one,
that I thought I d give it to them anyhow. Well, what
do you think of my team-work, eh? "
The Lieutenant pondered a moment in silent
" Yes," he said, " pretty fair for signal-practice.
But what about the real thing, eh? Why don t they
get at each other? I don t see them scrimmage, do
A cloud obscured the radiance of the Maestro s
"Well," he said, ruefully, "we re in the Philip
pines. My team can run signals, but you can t expect
them to play. And," he added, in sudden consolation,
" your Scouts can drill, but they won t fight."
The situation had become tense beyond words, and
the Maestro gracefully evoluted.
" Papa Isio is coming," he said. " I picked up his
announcement this morning in the middle of the
" Papa Isio is a common carabao thief," said the
Lieutenant. " Besides, our troops have killed him
already five distinct times and he doesn t exist. And
it s not up to me, anyhow. Go see Hafner."
So the Maestro went off to see Hafner. Leopold
Joseph Hafner, First Lieutenant of Scouts, U. S. A.,
Commandant of the Post of Balangilang, was reclin
ing in an easy-chair on his veranda, a bottle of gin
under his nose. He greeted his visitor with a blank
stare. The Commandant disapproved of pedagogues,
and, in fact, of civilians in general.
" Hello, Lieut," shouted the Maestro, with an
irreverence that would have sent a shudder along the
spine of a neutral witness. " Here s a piece of paper
The Commandant examined the paper.
"Well?" he said, at length, with an indifference
calculated to crush.
" Oh, nothing. Only that Papa Isio is coming.
That s the way he announced his visit when I was at
Cabayan last spring, and he burned the town down
and my punching bag, and made hash of the "
He stopped with a little gurgle of dismay. Hafner
had risen from the ranks by a Teutonic adhesion to
regulations, and rumour, supported by his manner
isms, had it that his debut in the army had been
culinary. The remark about the fate of the inhab-
MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG 37
itants of Cabajan was harmless; the little gurgle
" And what business is that of yours ? " asked the
Commandant, with a snort.
" Not much. Thought you d like to know, so as
to get ready "
" Sir," interrupted the Commandant, pompously,
" the American Army is always ready."
" I was speaking of your Scouts, sir," the Maestro
He had been maneuvering toward the door during
the latter part of the dialogue, and with the last
word he waved an airy good-by and hop-skipped-
jumped down the stairs.
The next day Papa Isio was in town.
The Commandant and his Second Lieutenant were
aware of the fact at the same time. For, startled out
of their morning slumbers by a screeching tumult,
they sprang to their windows to see the whole popu
lation of Balangilang driving past as if the demon
were after them men, women, children, half-
dressed, dishevelled, their eyes bursting out of their
sockets, carrying bundles of hastily snatched goods
or squalling babies. And from this multitude, flying
by like nightmare creatures, there came one long,
wailing cry : " Papa Isio ! Papa Isio ! "
Against the black-blue background of the moun
tains, over which one golden raj of sun was just
sliding like a long rapier lunging toward the heart
of the city, volutes of smoke were rising heavily in
the water-logged air. Beneath, spiteful red tongues
leaped up and out again with explosive cracklings.
The whole eastern part of the pueblo was burning.
The officers ran to the cuartel. The men were in
an uproar. With the force of habit, acquired
through the countless parade drills which had been
their sole military experience, they had made a con
certed rush and were ferociously fighting among
themselves for the combs and brushes and shoe-
" Here, here," thundered Roberts, while Hafner
fumbled at the iron door of the storeroom where was
the carefully guarded ammunition ; " here, here, you
don t need to comb your hair. Get your guns and
His additional persuasion was physical and evi
dently potent, for when the men filed past Hafner to
get their ammunition they all had their rifles in hand
and their belts around their waists, though some had
not had time to don other garments generally re
garded, in more social crises at least, as indispensa
ble. They poured out, were rapidly formed in front
of the cuartel, and, as they deployed across the plaza,
MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG 39
from the smoke ahead Papa Isio s mad mountaineers
emerged in convulsive charge. A drainage ditch cut
the town transversely and the Scouts dropped neatly
into it; then their rifles slid out between the grass
tufts like venomous things.
" Fire at will ! " bellowed the Commandant.
Here the Regulations, which hitherto had unwaver
ingly rewarded Hafner for his respect of them, sud
denly went faithless.
" During the final rush of the attacking party,"
they say, categorically, " firing should be at will, for
then the rapidity of fire and the flatness of traj ectory
are more to be relied upon than accuracy."
But alas ! the peculiar moral characteristics of
the Balangilang Scouts had not been considered when
the Regulations were elaborated.
The flatness of trajectory worked poorly. At first
pop the majority of the Scouts emptied their maga
zines like bunches of firecrackers. Most of the bullets
sped towards the rising sun, to whisper the story of
their masters unsteady nerves to the trees in the hills.
To be just, however, it must be recorded that some
ploughed up the ground directly beneath the marks
men s noses. Even then the mere noise which was
positively tremendous might have checked the ad
vance of the attackers had they not been Papa Isio s
own Dios-Dios crew of mad, weird fellows, hurled on
by that religious spirit which kills so finely. Their
Mad Pope was sending them to everlasting glory,
and Death would only expedite the voyage. On they
came, howling, mouth-distorted, muscles convulsively
tense, a foaming, maniacal band. At their head a
big black man with rolling eyeballs bounded, waving
a long lance ending in a blood-dipped standard. The
war drums hummed in rhythm.
The Scouts were not at ease. Some were still pep
pering at the sun, but the majority were fighting
their rifles, trying to reload them with stiff, clutching
fingers that did not work expeditiously, or pounding
at them with a rage that told of something jammed.
Running up and down behind the line, the two officers
were waving their swords, shouting and cursing in
an attempt to reinstill in their men that automatic
regularity which had been their fond pride. But the
strings were broken and the puppets worked spas
modically. The incoming rush was only a hundred
yards away. Suddenly, with a wonderful burst of
speed, the big standard-bearer spurted ahead of his
companions. A Scout rose from the trench and aimed
his rifle, when the blood-dripping rag described a
rapid parabola and was sticking flaccidly on the
soldier s khaki, the handle quivering behind. Hafner
saw the hands go up, clutching at the sun.
" With the bayonet charge," he bellowed.
MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG 41
" Hold on," screamed Roberts, in frenzied warn
ing ; " they haven t had that yet ! "
And then he found himself surrounded, pushed,
jostled, swept away in a furious stampede. Though
they " hadn t had it," the men were charging, but it
was in the wrong direction. Across the plaza they
avalanched, toward the stone church, and when Rob
erts flowed in with the tumultuous current, he had a
vision of the Commandant, purple and spitting with
rage, at his elbow. The heavy doors clanged shut
There was a moment of silence. The men were
panting in a corner with the " I-couldn t-help-it " air
of a young dog whose inherited tendencies have
proved too strong for his acquired characteristics.
The officers looked at each other blankly.
" Well," said Roberts, " we ought to hold em here,
" Hold them ! " screeched the Commandant. " Why,
blank, blankety, blank, blank, these forsaken, evil-
parented, divinity-doomed curs should drive the
measly, meanly-pedigreed carabao thieves clean off
this evil earth. Why, doom my soul "
" Well, let s see about it," said Roberts, briskly,
while his superior choked in a befuddlement of
He ran up the gallery steps to one of the six great
windows which overlooked the plaza. He peered out
guardedly, then with more confidence; his nose went
out, then his head; his shoulders followed, his whole
bust, and he was standing in the opening, his whole
wide area in full view. His lower jaw hung in limp
For what he saw was not at all what he had ex
pected to see.
The Dios-Dios men were not surrounding the
church. For some inexplicable reason they had
stopped at the ditch. From his elevated position the
Lieutenant could see them inside the trench, huddled
like fish in a basket. Their fine ardour had singularly
cooled. Grovellingly they flattened themselves at the
bottom of the ditch, fighting for the underneath
position, squirming in such convulsions as are
ascribed to a certain gentleman of mediaeval legends
when sprinkled with holy water. And when Roberts
searched for some possible explanation, a fresh sur
prise puckered his lips in a low whistle. For, strewn
over a space extending some fifty yards on the near
side of the trench, there were six or seven bodies
lying face downward, with arms outstretched toward
the church. The Dios-Dios men had not stopped at
the trench; they had passed it and had been driven
back to it by some mysterious catastrophe. Among
the bodies Roberts recognised that of the big epilep-
MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG 43
tic leader of the charge, his gory standard a red spot
in a bunch of cogon.
The movements in the trench were increasing in
vehemence. Suddenly Roberts knew the cause. To his
ears, inattentive from the very intensity of his visual
observation, there now came a significant sound. At
regular, business-like intervals the sharp ping-ing of
a Mauser carbine split the air, dying off in a long-
drawn whistle. The Lieutenant succeeded in locating
the sound. It came from a deserted hut seemingly
from its roof at the upper end of the ditch.
The thing was clear now. The mysterious sharp
shooter had the Dios-Dios men enfiladed. And the
movements in the ditch were not all actuated by
search for shelter. They were convulsive somersaults ;
stiff hands clutched at earth and grass. A little red
stream began to trickle out of the lower end of the
The Dios-Dios men were becoming demoralised.
The report of a Mauser is difficult to locate to the
most experienced; to the fanatics the thing was im
palpable mystery. And the plaza was deserted. If
there had been only some human presence to rekindle
their rage, they might have gone on in their mad
race. But there was nothing. The Scouts were secure
in the big stone church. The long, flat plaza was
dead; the sun dripped into craniums like molten
lead, and from the nowhere hailed the weird missiles,
shattering arms, puncturing bodies, bursting open
heads. One man crawled back, two followed, ten in
a bunch, and in another minute the tall grass was all
alive with sinuous movements and there was nobody
in the trench, nothing except limp heaps of what
looked like cast-off clothing.
The door of the hut marked by Roberts flew open
as if by explosion and the Maestro burst out, a smok
ing gun in his right hand, a revolver in his left,
another revolver and a bolo in his belt. With a pirati
cal yell he raced across the plaza, his long legs work
ing smooth as well-greased machinery, his red hair
flying behind him. When midway along the trench
he leaped upon a mound left by the excavators and
stretched out in bold relief. A strange war-cry,
beginning with something about some husky wow-wow
(whoever he might be), passing on to a no less inter
esting fact about a whisky wee-wee, rising through a
tremulous crescendo about some sort of a yah, and
culminating in a long, shrill whoop, reverberated
atrociously over the deserted battlefield. Then the
gun that had waved through these vocal convulsions
dropped back to the Maestro s shoulder, and a rapid
fusilade gave a pronounced accentuation to the wav
ing of the grass along the line of smouldering nipa-
r MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG 45
Roberts tried to dodge away from the window, but
he was too late. The Maestro, through with his flour
ish, had turned and spied him. Roberts could see the
tooth-lacking mouth agape in a broad grin. The
Maestro waved his hand amiably. " Come on," said
the gesture, reassuringly. " Come on ; it s all right
now." A violent blush rose to the officer s face.
But he had not time for self -analysis. Along the
ruins, at the farther edge of the plaza, the Dios-Dios
men were reforming. The panic-stricken groups were
being coalesced in a triple line, and between these
lines a strange being, in a long robe and incongruous
helmet, was slowly passing in weird ceremony. It
was the Mad Pope himself. He was locking the lines
hand in hand. As he passed before his followers, each
took his bolo between his teeth and grasped the hand
of the man to the right; and over the clasp the
illumined leader made the sign of the cross. It was
grotesque, but not laughable. The puerility of garb
and ceremonial was lost in the significance of the
result. The Dios-Dios hysteria flamed anew. It was
as if a monkey had invoked the Death Angel and the
Death Angel had answered.
Roberts was leaving the window in haste when his
last sweeping glance over the plaza froze him again
It seemed to him that the red rag which signalled
the position of the leader of the first charge had
moved. It seemed nearer, fully ten paces nearer, to
the ditch than when he had first espied it. And now,
even as he looked, the thing advanced sinuously and
a bronze body glistened between the bunches of grass
in a rapid crawl of ten feet or more toward the uncon
scious schoolmaster who, with his back to the subtle
danger, was now watching alertly ahead.
The Lieutenant s hands went to his mouth in a
" Hey, there," he shouted, " look out in back there.
In back, in back."
But the Maestro did not understand. The word
" back," which he caught, was not to his liking.
" Oh, hell ! " floated back the irreverent answer.
" I m all right. Come on, you fellows. / // hold them."
Roberts desisted. There was no time for further
dialogue. The Dios-Dios lines were beginning to move
forward. And besides, at that particular moment, the
Lieutenant did not care much what happened to the
amiable pedagogue. He clattered downstairs.
The men were lined up, blinking before the flashes
of Hafner s sword and language. The doors were
thrown open and the company rushed out. Almost
at the same time, from the other side of the plaza,
the triple line of hand-locked fanatics began to move
MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG 47
It was a race for the ditch and the Maestro, and a
comfortable one, seemingly, for the Scouts, who had
but half of the distance to go. But Roberts, through
with the temporary vexation caused by the Maestro s
peculiar ways, led his men at a furious pace. His
sword in his left hand, his revolver in his right, his
whole big frame vibrating with the effort, he raced
ahead with an energy that seemed very unnecessary to
Hafner, who, puffing, was falling farther and farther
behind. For the Dios-Dios men were being seriously
hampered in their advance. The Papa s hand-locked
formation doubtless had its advantages morally, but
it had also its disadvantages materially. The Maes
tro s carbine was working busily, and soon there were
dents in the Dios-Dios lines, and some of the hand
clasps were strong with the tenacity not of life, but of
death. The Scouts had the race well in hand, but still
Roberts tugged ahead, snarling with the effort. Be
hind the Maestro he could see a tell-tale undulation
of the high grass, nearer and nearer. He was only a
few yards from the trench now. Suddenly a panther-
lithe form bounded from the ground behind the school
master and a big black man with upraised arms, ter
minating in a kriss, stood out in relief. Roberts s
revolver spit. The black arms whizzed down with a
velocity hardly lessened by the limpness of death.
There was a dull thud ; the schoolmaster rolled slowly
into the ditch, and the big- black man pitched head
long down upon him.
" By , too bad," muttered Roberts, and then
his revolver spluttered. The situation was not bad.
The Scouts had gained the trench in good time.
Bunched together and firing by platoon, they were
doing better. The Dios-Dios line received each volley
with a shivering bow, and if this involuntary courtesy
proved the firing to be still too high, it no less showed
that it was at least within whistling distance. The
ardour of the advance waned gradually ; at last the
lines stopped in indecision. The more rabid fanatics
were still tugging forward, the others were holding
back, and the lines vibrated between the two impulses
without advancing. It was the psychological moment.
" Time for a charge, eh? " Roberts shouted, turn
ing to his superior.
But that gentleman was sleeping quietly, his face
in the grass, and a shivered lance-handle by his side.
" With the bayonet charge ! " bellowed Roberts,
He took a few steps in advance and found himself
alone. The Scouts were satisfied with their position;
they settled a little deeper in the trench and peppered
" Charge, darn you, charge ! " screeched Roberts,
pricking the nearest men with his sword.
MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG 49
But the few minutes of oral instruction upon charg
ing, given in the church, proved inadequate. Three
or four those who had come in closest contact with
Roberts s persuasion started out convulsively, took
a few steps, and suddenly flopped back into the ditch
like frogs into a puddle.
The Dios-Dios lines were stiffening now. With the
Maestro s rifle quiet, their immunity from punishment
was encouraging. Back of them, upright on a mound,
the pseudo-sainted form of Papa Isio stood with arms
stretched to heaven in fervent exhortation. The more
valiant began to prevail. The lines began to move
" Oh, Lord," groaned Roberts, " if the little skunks
would only charge."
And then from the depths of the trench there slowly
emerged a strange, inchoate, human thing. As it rose
it segregated ; one half of it fell off in a big black,
limp body. The rest continued unfolding, up and up,
till finally it stood in full view, a weird, bloody, red-
haired, dishevelled spectre. It tottered unsteadily
on the talus and then a shrill, unearthly voice
" Five, twenty-four, six X ! "
There was a movement in the trench.
" Five, twenty-four, six X ! " again wailed the la
A little group of men sprang out of the trench
and charged in a V a-down the square ; the rest of the
company poured out in helter-skelter pursuit. Before
this incongruous advance the Dios-Dios lines, who
had seen enough miracles for one day, broke, turned,
and fled. A small body held their ground, and the
Scouts struck them with a crumpling crash. For
three minutes it was bayonet against bolo, and Rob-
erts s revolver turned the scales. In another minute
the plaza was cleared and the last of Papa Isio s
forces were disappearing among the burned huts with
bayonets at their backs.
When Roberts returned with his elated soldiers he
found the pueblo occupied by a detachment sent from
Bago. A stretcher was starting on a tour of the
field, but Roberts ran ahead of it to the centre of the
His attention had been caught by a vague move
ment there. Through the high grass he could see
something struggling and bounding in sudden, sharp
It was the inevitable Maestro. He was on top of
Hafner, who also had come back to life, and was
" kneeing " him with characteristic enthusiasm.
" Mr. Referee," screamed the gentle educator,
when he had been pulled away by Roberts, aided by a
MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG 51
corporal s squad ; " Mr. Referee, he crawled after you
blew the whistle! Put that ball back, you scalawag.
Then he fainted, which, considering the day s work,
was about the proper thing to do.
O UT over Mariveles the sun had set in sombre splen
dour. A velvet pall of darkness had fallen upon the
earth like a conclusion; but the waters of the bay
still glowed, glowed with a light that was not re
flected, but floated up from within a luminous exha
lation, as it were, from the mysterious depths 1 a
dark purplish light that should not have been, which
astonished the soul and was sinister. Someone on the
veranda mentioned Morton. The short, idle sentence
split the peace of the moment like an electric spark.
And the silence that immediately engulfed it was not
as the silence that had been before; it was a silence
full of unrest, of vague spiritual heavings and stir
rings, of tumult invisible, unheard, impalpable and
yet felt, poignantly felt, in some immaterial way, as
is felt at sea the surge of waters through the impene
trability of the mists. It was such a silence as always
followed the invocation of the man ; for his case was
one which filled us with inward clamour and question
ing, and yet pinned us beneath the weight of some
HER READING 53
But Courtland began to speak, and we leaned for
ward, intent, knowing that he must understand. Yet
his first words were a confession of doubt, of that
same inability to pierce the depths of the thing and
pass sentence which exasperated us all vaguely.
" I don t know if I understand yet," he began,
slowly. " I ve stared and stared at it and yet I
don t know. Sometimes I think I understand a lit
tle more every day and yet "
His voice had droned off gradually. A heavy tor
por descended from the low sky. Far out lights flared
up, red, dishevelled lights that bounded and leaped,
up and down, to and fro, in frenzied dance. The
Tagal fishermen were calling the fish with their allur
ing flames ; the soft, insistent tapping of their pad
dles upon the flanks of their canoes came to our ears
like hypnotic suggestion. They began to shout, a
mad medley of yells that wavered, broke, began again
and at last welded in one long, quavering cry full of
And Courtland s voice bassed forth again, with
" It isn t the fall of him that s difficult ; that s easy,
too easy we see so much of it. But the redemption
unless we go back to the old explanation, puerile
to us complicated moderns, perhaps from its very
obviousness the old theory of purification through
suffering. But you know, there re the others, that
suffered, too; and they . And then there is She.
She is the mystery, the holy mystery. Before her
she had his soul, legible to her like a book. And the
leaves wear a smear of mud and blood. And yet
what did she read? Out of these defiled pages, what
fact did she grasp as the All-Important? "
We listened, patiently waiting, waiting for the
word, the solution.
" You remember him a tall, dark, aquiline man,
with something Indian in his features, and efficiency
written in every muscle-play of his magnificent body.
A strong man, you would remark at first sight, a
strong man, physically and morally. Bah! the
strength of man a phrase, words, bubble! He had
the body, the jaw, the presence a mere shell. The
weakness was there, anyhow, some little spot of blight
within, I don t know just what; it might have been
a touch of the romantic merely that glowed some
times in the liquidity of his brown eyes.
" He was one of life s fortunates, too. Belonged to
a good family in the States New Englanders, rep
utable and cold and narrow, stiff with rectitude as
their own rock-ribbed coasts. Well educated, had
gone to college, had played football, et cetera. Well,
he came over here with the Volunteers. Easy to read
after that. First, fervent, romantic patriotism, then
HER READING 55
mad exasperation, then mere cold cynical brutality.
Two years of loosening of fiber in the promiscuity of
camp, of reversion to type in butchery of field. When
the Volunteers returned, he did not go with them.
The tropics had him by that time, had penetrated his
heart with their pernicious charm the charm of
their languorous amorality, the charm of power : we
whites here, as in some insane asylums, we re all kings.
" He went into the Constabulary, behaved rather
well there, too. When I first saw him he had just re
turned from an expedition and his name was in all
mouths. His command had proved faithless, and he
had fought his way back, through enemy and friend,
through incredible suffering. It was fine but it was
the shell. Inside was the spot of blight. And it began
to spread, by imperceptible degrees. You could
hardly see the progress, you know only by taking
periods far apart, and then it hit you with a shock.
Finally he was at the last step you know the step I
mean, the last one.
" You could tell it by an exaggeration of outer
form, of outer cleanliness, by a stiffening, as it were,
of the shell. The whiteness of his suits became
extraordinary ; they glistened with starch ; they but
toned up to the ears. He flourished his swagger stick
like a general; at the club he bore himself with ag-
gressive stiffness, with a febrile hauteur that chal
lenged the world.
" I suppose it wasn t all corrosion of moral fiber.
Perhaps that deplorable touch of romance in the man
was partly responsible. You know love, free, un
trammelled love, in the tropics, beneath the palms ;
between the cynical, blase, complicated man of civili
sation and the maid, the charming, ingenuous maiden,
half savage, half child a miserable hodge-podge
vision of love, spices, bananas, bamboos, coral
" I stumbled upon the establishment by chance.
It was cholera time ; I had been detailed as inspector.
It was very sordid, really. No hut beneath the palms ;
two rooms in the Walled City. Disorder, untidiness,
moral lassitude there. No wonder he stiffened up out
side. And she was not even pretty. Her eyes, slightly
oblique, were closely set together, which gave her an
extraordinary calculating air. While he romanced
I suppose that he did ; I hope that he did she seemed
counting, ceaselessly counting the Mex. that might
come to her out of that affair. The only redeeming
thing that I saw redeeming, I mean, from a purely
plastic standpoint was a beautiful, liquid-eyed
child they had there her sister. You catch my dis
tinction. It wasn t at all redeeming from another
HER READING 57
point of view that child there in the shame of their
lives. Everything else might have been pardonable
" After a while even the outer shell began to show
it. His white suits lost their impeccability; often he
left the upper button open. Sometimes he wore his
khaki without leggings. He didn t shave often
enough. A vague sordidness began to creep over him
" He drank. Not steadily ; but about once a week
he marched into the club with his hostile swagger
(mind you, the swagger was all against himself;
nobody knew of his situation ; he did not know that
I knew) ; he sat down resolutely at one of the tables
and called for drink after drink, which he swallowed
with the same strange, decided, inflexible manner,
as if he were doing something of absolute importance,
something that he must do in spite of the world, in
spite of himself. He kept that up, a frown between
his eyes as if from tremendous mental effort, hour
after hour, sometimes till the whiteness of dawn.
Then he rose suddenly, clicked his heels together,
and stalked off, seemingly unaffected.
" One evening, as he came in thus, I was sitting
alone on the veranda. He gave me a casual glance,
walked straight on a few steps, then, swerving sud-
denly, settled in the seat next to mine. He said noth
ing at first, just sat there, a black bar between his
eyes, seizing glass after glass which the muchachos,
by that time well trained, ran up to him. Then he
began to speak.
" He spoke about Her ! Of course, at that time I
did not know of her existence. I was bewildered; I
thought he spoke of the other one, the one in the
Walled City. Then as I understood, I was shocked
as by a desecration.
" It s four years ago, Courtland, that I told her
good-by, he said, soberly, leaning over and placing
a hand upon my knee. * She was in the gar
den, in the dew of the morning, and she was picking
" He was silent a long time. I was dumb,
astounded; a sense of sacrilege filled my being. He
" Her eyes are green, Courtland, green like the
sea. And she can read into my soul, Courtland, right
into my soul !
" Another period of silence, and then :
" " I am yours ; whenever you need me I shall
come to you." That is what she said.
" He jerked forward over the table, his head in his
hands. A horrible spiritual discomfort crept into me.
I didn t want to hear about it ; I didn t ! I wanted to
HER READING 59
hush him, push my hand against that blasphemous
" * And I left her in the garden, in the dew of the
morning, among the roses !
" He rose stiffly, drew his hands from his face,
down to his sides, as if with great effort, squared his
shoulders, snapped his heels together, and marched
off as he had come in.
" Thus I first saw her, and always after saw her,
in indelible picture a frail young girl, of eyes with
the sea-glint in them, picking roses in the dewy
morning. Roses ! thousands of them red and white
and yellow ; they are at her feet, at her sides, above
her ; their petals are in her hair, their incense is about
her like an adoration.
" I saw him off and on after that, but he never
mentioned her again for which I was thankful. The
disintegration was going on. Those black periods of
revolt were less frequent now. Professionally he was
still strong, had had the honour of being placed on
the Katipunan s blacklist, the honour of carrying
proudly, like an iron corselet, an exterior of cold
indifference above the inward tension of every
" And then came that night.
" Yes, that s the night, the night of which you all
know something. But I know more ; he told me every-
thing, that one time he talked, his lips unsealed in a
burst of hysteria.
" He awoke, that night, smothered beneath the
black weight of some indefinite discomfort. Instinc
tively his right hand slipped beneath his pillow and
closed upon the Mauser pistol ; but when he had lived
thus a full minute, his fingers clutched about the
stock, his breath convulsive in his throat, he slowly
released the weapon with a sigh that was not relief.
For it was not from the Katipunan warning that came
this vague oppression that through his sleep had
wrapped him as in a shroud ; it was something deeper,
more subtle and more intimate; it was interfibred
with his innermost being, and it was torture.
" He fought the haunting thing. It was a terrible
night. The heat lay upon him like a catafalque. The
enfevering rumour of moat -born gnats clung to the
netting surrounding him; from the patio-hall there
came the weary cough of a muchacho, stretched in his
toil-damp clothes upon the polished floor. Outside,
between the conch-shell shutters of the veranda the
horizon was luminous with the moon ; a beam stole
into the steaming darkness of the room. It flashed
up the mosquito bar into shimmering vapour ; blandly
it began a pointing-out of details, the inexorable de
tails of his life s vulgarity. A nausea shook his being ;
he slipped to the floor and out to the balcony.
HER READING 61
" Beneath the moon Manila was agleani. The whole
firmament was liquid with the light; it poured down
like luminous rain, slid in cascades over the church
domes, the tin roofs, the metallic palms, till the whole
earth shimmered back to the skies. In the entire city
only one spot gloomed the old fort, mysterious and
pestilential with its black oozing walls, its fever-
belting moat ; but beyond it, as if in exasperation at
this stubborn nonconformity, the brightness broke out
again triumphant in the glimmering sheen of the
" But from that serenity he turned, and he looked
back, he had to look back. He peered into the room
of infamy, peered at the bed, rising black and monu
mental in the farther depths, at the heaps of clothing
here and there in cynical promiscuity, at the pile of
greasy cooking utensils upon the stand, at the whole
ensemble of disorder, weakness, moral lassitude. Pas-
sionlessly the light was sweeping all this, plucking
out of the shadow one by one the detestable details.
It stole toward the right wall, fell upon a cot, and
from it there emerged a white little form that came
hesitatingly to him. It was Magdalena, the child, the
sister of Maria.
" She had been with them long. But now, suddenly,
her presence there, in that atmosphere of sin, struck
him with a great shock.
" Back, he whispered ; back to bed, chiquita ;
it s time to be sleeping.
" But she wanted something a lock of his hair.
Maria had one ; she wanted one also.
" He remembered that she had asked this before,
with childish insistence. He had not given much at
tention to it. And really, in all probability, it was
mere childish whim. But now the thing staggered
him, like something monstrous. Who could tell what
there was in the mind of that child, with great won
der-eyes open to the shamelessness of his life. He
chided her harshly and sent her scampering back to
" Then, turning his back upon the room, upon all
this sordid misery, he looked out upon the waters.
And a ship, a white army transport, was coming
in. Slowly it glided between the ghostlike silhouettes
of vessels at anchor; it turned ponderously; there
was a splash of phosphorescence at the bow, a
running clang of chain through hawse. He did
not know what that craft held for him, ah, no!
You know, don t you? He did not; but suddenly
his whole spiritual being tugged within him, sprang
back the long, solitary path of the ship, back across
the moonlit bay, past Corregidor, out into the sea,
along the foamy track, back miles in thousands to a
harder, cleaner land, to a little California town em-
HER READING 63
bowered in scented hills, and it threw itself at the feet
of a girl the girl he had left among the roses,
whose eyes could read into his soul.
" The moon went out behind a cloud. He had slid
to the floor and lay there, his head upon his arm.
Then he told me that later he heard somebody
hickup, hickup hard, metallically. After a while he
discovered that it was he. He was sobbing. And long
in the enfevered darkness there pulsed that strange,
hard hickup of the man with the iron hand of woe
upon his throat.
" He must have fallen asleep at last ; when he awoke
again a sense of danger weighed upon his whole body
like lead. He was stretched full length, his face
downward upon his arms, and although he did no t
turn his head to see, he knew that it was dark, pitch
dark. It seemed to him that a moment ago something
cold and steely had touched his temple.
" He lay thus, it seemed to him a long time, mo
tionless, while his heart-pulse rose in crescendo till
it almost suffocated him. For to his ears, along the
sound-conducting floor, there came a faint, soft rus
tle of something, somebody crawling. A mad desire
to rise, shout, attack, break the silent horror of the
moment, thrilled him, but fear laid its cold, paralys
ing hand upon him, and he could not move.
" Suddenly the spell was broken. A click as of a
knife falling from the hand of an assassin to the
floor shot the blood through his veins as by chemical
reaction. With a shout he had sprung to his feet,
darted across the room, and seized the Mauser be
neath his pillow. He turned his eyes upon the floor
and in the center caught sight of a vague, crouching
form. A shot rang into his ears, vibrated in pain
along each of his nerves, and then he was leaning
back against the bed-post, limp and cold, sick with
the sense of mistake, mistake hideous and irre
" He stayed there, against the bedpost, limp and
cold, his eyes straining through the darkness at the
vague huddle in the centre of the room. He knew
that Maria had awakened with a scream, that she had
struck a light, that she was bending over the name
less thing, and he felt a strange relief as her broad
back hid it from view. But she returned toward him
and put her dilated eyes, her brown face, fear-
spotted, near his own, and she whispered, hoarsely,
Magdalena ! 5
" But this was only confirmation of what his whole
being was crying to him, and he was busy listening to
something else, listening to the crack of a Mauser
pistol tearing through his brain, and then springing
out into the silent night, echoing, swelling, thunder
ing in fierce crescendo down the hushed streets, rever-
HER READING 65
berated from wall to wall, rushing, a tidal wave of
sound, into every house and nook and crevice, shout
ing, proclaiming, shrieking with its iron voice the
story of his life, of his degradation, till the whole
city, ringing from the call, hurled it on and on across
the sea into Her ears, the heralding trumpet-call of
his dishonour, of his fall, of his degradation.
" But Maria was speaking. Hush, she whispered ;
* do not tell. We can hide. Martinez will help us.
To-morrow we ll bury her. It s the cholera ; the health
men will believe you ; nobody will look close.
" Together they went back to the spot. Kneeling
low, he gathered the little girl up in his arms. Some
thing fell with a steely clang to the floor. He picked
it up; it was a pair of scissors. Something eddied
down slowly from her other hand; it was a lock of
his own hair. He stood there, with the limp little
body in his arms, stupid with the sudden vision of
the trap set for him, the trap of retributive Fate, its
appalling simplicity of means, its atrocity of result.
But he must act. Hurriedly seizing his old, moth-
eaten, army overcoat, he began to button it upon
himself. Maria was talking again.
" Hush, she said ; do not tell. We can hide.
Martinez will help us. We ll bury her to-morrow. It s
the cholera. The health men will believe you; and
nobody will dare look close.
" He stopped, with his hand upon the last brass
button, his head bent to one side, listening to the
insidious murmur. And he knew that it was true,
hellishly true. The great stricken city, hypnotised
with its fear, was indifferent to everything else. The
whole thing could be hidden, buried, annihilated.
Then he saw himself again as he had been earlier in
the night, standing in the moonlight of the balcony,
peering into the room, into the depths of his degra
dation. No, no, enough, enough ! he snarled. And,
seizing the little body with its possible spark of life,
he rushed out into the street.
" The dawn was breaking. Bareheaded, barefooted,
he raced silently along the endless, narrow streets.
He passed long files of white-garbed men the cigar-
makers on the way to the factories ; they scattered
before him in fear. The naked muchachos were gal
loping their ponies to the beach for their morning
bath ; they circled wide as they came upon him. At a
plaza he tried to hail a carromata, but the cochero
whipped up his horse in a frenzy of distrust. It was
cholera time, and cold egoism ruled the city. He told
me of it, that one time. I was alone, Courtland,
alone, alone. None would near me, none would hear
me. They fled, they fled. I was alone, alone with my
crime in my arms, with my story in my arms, the
story of my life, of my degradation; alone, Court-
HER READING 67
land, with my temptation, my temptation, Court-
land A vacuum formed about him as he raced
on, cutting his feet upon the stones, panting with the
physical effort and the spiritual horror, on and on
through narrow streets long as death. He came
to a quay, a silent, dark place in the shadow of the
city wall, and there his temptation slowed him up.
Maria was right. It was cholera time; the great
amoral city was indifferent to everything else. The
little body with its possible spark of life this infini
tesimal possibility which demanded of him such stu
pendous self-immolation could be dropped quietly
into the river, to stream out there into the unfathom
able secret of the bay. And She would never know,
She would never know!
" She ! He saw her as he had left her, in the gar
den, in the dewy morning. Her eyes were steadily
upon him. * Enough ! Enough ! he cried, with a
growl, as that of a wild beast.
" He passed along a crooked bridge. At the end
a big Metropolitan policeman stepped to him with
a question, but he rushed past with a vague mutter
ing. The policeman hesitated a moment, then fol
lowed; and behind the patter of the bare feet the
heavy boots echoed, pounding in patient pursuit. At
last he stood beneath the pale, sputtering light of the
hospital porch, striking feverishly at the great doors.
They opened before him and he entered, the police
man at his heels. A man took his burden quickly as he
sank on the bench, and disappeared through a small
door at the end of the hall. A gong clanged twice in
quick succession, then once more, and as if in answer
two white-jacketed men came down the stairs, passed
across the hall, and vanished into the room where the
first man had gone. A silence fell over the place.
The big clock against the staircase ticked resound
ingly. The policeman leaned back against the wall
and examined the man huddled there upon the bench
with curious glance.
" After a time long as eternity, one of the white-
jacketed men came out into the hall and stood in
front of Morton. Morton looked up at him in a great
question, but the man did not seem to see it.
" Er, er, he drawled, as if embarrassed. Then
suddenly, Who shot her?
" I did, answered Morton.
" Er, er with what?
" Mauser pistol thirty-eight.
" Yes, yes, acquiesced the man. * And how old did
you say she was ? *
" For Christ s sake, broke out Morton, in sudden
cry ; how is she ; is she dead ; is there any hope?
" Why, yes ; of course, she is dead, answered the
man, as if shocked that there should be any doubt
HER READING 69
about it. Then he turned to the policeman, as if say
ing, I ve done my part ; the rest belongs to you.
" But Morton had risen, stiffened with the vision
of what there was left for him to do.
" I m Morton, he said to the policeman ; * second-
class Inspector, Luzon Constabulary. I did the shoot
ing. It was a mistake. I m going to my room to
dress ; then I ll report to my chief ; and after that
I ll surrender myself to the Metropolitan Police. You
can follow if you wish.
" The policeman hesitated a moment, subjugated
by the man s manner. It s all right, he said ; you
can go ; I ll telephone to headquarters.
" And as Morton went out he saw the policeman
step to the telephone-box at the end of the hall. And
he knew that with the puerile, nasal voice of the wire
the heralding had begun.
" Outside, the sun was already pouring its bitter
ness upon the gleaming city, and the streets were
fermenting with feverish humanity white-garbed
men, hurrying to the factories, bright-camisaed
women going to the market with baskets upon their
heads, naked-busted cargadores with gleaming mus
cles. Morton plunged ahead through the throng,
which broke before him with sullen acquiescence to
the right of the strong. The exaltation of the night
had given place to a strange stupor. His head wab-
bled on his shoulders, empty as a sleighbell, and a
great weariness was in his limbs. Slowly he retraced
the long course of the night through the indifferent
crowds. He met only one white man that he knew, in
a narrow, disreputable alley. The man stopped him,
" What are you doing in a place like this ? he
asked. * You forget you re on the Katipunan. You re
liable to get hurt.
" Hurt? Morton laughed in his face and left
him standing there bewildered. At last he entered the
patio of his house. Everything was as usual. The
cocheros were washing down their carromatas pre
paratory to going out ; the muchachos were galloping
back, their ponies flanks gleaming with salt water.
No one gave him a glance as he went upstairs to his
" He entered it without a tremor and looked stu
pidly about him. The place reeked with the sordid
disorder of every morning ; of the sudden horror of
the night there was only one sign a blanket had
been thrown carelessly over a certain spot in the cen
tre of the room. He turned to his clothes-chest and
began to dress. He worked slowly, losing time on
unimportant details. It took him a long time to
choose the white suit that he would wear amid the
dozen that he spread on the bed, and then he was still
HER READING 71
longer putting in the buttons. When he was dressed
he noticed that he had to shave, and called for his
boy. The boy did not come, and then he saw that
several familiar objects were missing from the room.
He opened Maria s drawer; it was empty. She had
gone, and probably taken the boy with her. He lit
the coal-oil stove upon the cooking-stand, heated
water, and shaved. Finally he was ready. He went
downstairs, jumped into a carromata that was just
rattling out of the court, and drove to the In-
" The Chief let him into his inner office immediately.
Looking down upon his superior seated at his desk,
Morton told the night s story in dry, monotonous
manner, as a story told already a hundred times, and
he noticed, as he talked, that the Chief knew already
all about it, but was too polite to interrupt. When
he had done, the Chief spoke.
" * Yes, he said ; * it s too bad, too bad. But you
must brace up, take it like a man. We all live differ
ently here than we would at home, and things like
that are liable to happen. Yes, it s too bad. You
must brace up.
" He stopped, then went on again. * It s too bad,
too bad. I suppose er that you are going to sur
render yourself to the Metropolitan. Mere matter of
form, of course
" Yes, said Morton, wearily. He turned to go.
The Chief was speaking again.
" * By the way, he was saying, his eyes close to
gether in a perplexed frown ; somebody has been
here for you this morning, several times, yes, several
times. I you
" But Morton, after standing politely a moment
without hearing, had gone out, leaving the Chief
frowning perplexedly at his desk. He went through
the corridor, into the outer office, and then
" I was there. That part he did not tell me. I
came in behind him (I was following him with I don t
know what notion of comfort). I saw him stop sud
denly. A woman stood before him.
" It was She. I knew her right away, the pale,
sweet girl, the girl of the roses. She was standing be
fore him ; and her eyes, the eyes with the sea-glint
in them, were plunging into his soul. He did not
shrink; he stood there before her, his eyes in hers,
his shoulders thrown back, his arms hanging limp
down his sides, with palms turned outward in a ges
ture of utter surrender. Long, gravely she read the
soul laid bare before her. Suddenly she started back,
one, two steps, heavy, falling steps ; as at the same
higher command he also backed, one, two steps, heavy,
falling steps. His head dropped to his chest, his eyes
closed. I panted.
HER READING 73
" With an imperceptible movement she glided for
ward again. His eyes opened. She laid her right
hand upon his shoulder.
" * You have suffered, she said.
" And there you are ! "
The darkness had deepened ; Courtland was invisi
ble; but we could picture the gesture a wide sweep
of the arm outward, ending in a discouraged droop.
" I ve explained nothing, pointed out nothing, merely
retold it to you as I repeat and repeat it to myself,
merely to have at which to stare and stare. And it
always ends in this: I see her again, always; I see
her glide to him, note the sweet gravity of her ges
ture, the tremulous profundity of her glance. I
hear that phrase, that holy, incomprehensible phrase.
And I wonder, I wonder, that s all ; and an awe
seizes me, bends me down low, as if before something
big, terrible, and infinitely sacred."
THE STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH OF
ISIDRO DE LOS MAESTROS
I FACE ,TO FACE WITH THE FOE
RETURNING to his own town, after a morning
spent in " working up " the attendance of one of his
far and recalcitrant barrio-schools, the Maestro of
Balangilang was swaying with relaxed muscle and
half-closed eyes to the allegretto trot of his little
native pony, when he pulled up with a start, wide
awake and all his senses on the alert. Through his
somnolence, at first in a low hum, but fast rising in a
fiendish crescendo, there had come a buzzing sound,
much like that of one of the sawmills of his Cali
fornia forests, and now, as he sat in the saddle, erect
and tense, the thing ripped the air in ragged tear,
shrieked vibrating into his ear, and finished its course
along his spine in delicious irritation.
" Oh, where am I? " murmured the Maestro, blink
ing ; but between blinks he caught the flashing green
of the palay fields and knew that he was far from the
sawmills of the Golden State. So he raised his nose
STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH 75
to heaven, and there, afloat above him in the serene
blue, was the explanation. It was a kite, a great
locust-shaped kite, darting and swooping in the hot
monsoon, and from it, dropping plumb, came the
" Aha ! " exclaimed the Maestro, pointing accus
ingly at the thin line vaguely visible against the sky
line in a diagonal running from the kite above him to
a point ahead in the road. " Aha ! there s something
at the end of that ; there s Attendance at the end of
With which significant remark he leaned forward
in the saddle, bringing his switch down with a whizz
behind him. The pony gave three rabbit leaps and
then settled down to his drumming little trot. As
they advanced, the line overhead dropped gradually.
Finally the Maestro had to swerve the horse aside to
save his helmet. He pulled up to a walk, and, a few
yards further, came to the spot where string met
earth in the expected Attendance.
The Attendance was sitting on the ground, his
legs spread before him in an angle of forty-five
degrees, each foot arched in a secure grip of a bunch
of cogon grass. These legs were bare as far up as
they went, and, in fact, no trace of clothing was
reached until the eye met the lower fringe of an
indescribable undershirt modestly veiling the upper
half of a rotund little paunch; an indescribable un
dershirt, truly, for observation could not reach the
thing itself, but only the dirt incrusting it so that it
hung together, rigid as a knight s iron corselet, in
spite of monstrous tears and rents. Between the
teeth of the Attendance was a long, thick cheroot,
wound about with hemp fiber, at which he pulled with
rounded mouth. Hitched around his right wrist was
the kite string, and between his legs a stick spindled
with an extra hundred yards. At intervals he hauled
hand-over-hand upon the taut line, and then the
landscape vibrated to the buzz-saw song which had
so compellingly recalled the Maestro to his eternal
As the shadow of the horse fell upon him, the
Attendance brought his eyes down from their heav
enly contemplation, and fixed them upon the rider.
A tremor of dismay, mastered as soon as born, flitted
over him; then, silently, with careful suppression of
all signs of haste, he reached for a big stone with his
little yellow paw, then for a stick lying farther off.
Using the stone as a hammer, he drove the stick into
the ground with deliberate stroke, wound the string
around it with tender solicitude, and then, everything
being secure, just as the Maestro was beginning his
usual embarrassing question :
" Why are you not at school, eh? "
STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH 77
He drew up his feet beneath him, straightened up
like a jack-in-the-box, took a hop-skip-jump, and.
with a flourish of golden heels, flopped head first into
the roadside ditch s rank luxuriance.
" The little devil ! " exclaimed the disconcerted
Maestro. He dismounted and, leading his horse,
walked up to the side of the ditch. It was full of the
water of the last baguio. From the edge of the cane-
field on the other side there cascaded down the bank
a mad vegetation; it carpeted the sides and arched
itself above in a vault. Within this natural harbour
a carabao was soaking blissfully. Only its head
emerged, flat with the water, the great horns
wreathed incongruously with the floating lilies,
the thick nostrils exhaling ecstasy in shuddering
Filled with a vague sense of the ridiculous, the
Maestro peered into the recess. " The little devil ! "
he murmured : " He s somewhere in here ; but how
am I to get him, I d like to know? Do you see him.
eh, Mathusalem? " he asked of the stolid beast.
Whether in answer to this challenge or to some
other irritant, the animal slowly opened one eye and
ponderously let it fall shut again in what, to the
heated imagination of the Maestro, seemed a patron
ising wink. Its head slid quietly along the water;
puffs of ooze rose from below and spread on the
surface. Then, in the silence, there rose a signi
ficant sound a soft, repeated snapping of the
" Cluck, cluck."
" Aha ! " shouted the Maestro, triumphantly, to his
invisible audience. " I know where you are, you
scamp ; right behind the carabao ; come out of there,
pronto, dale-dale! "
But his enthusiasm was of short duration. To the
commanding tongue-click the carabao had stopped
dead-still and a silence heavy with defiance met the
too-soon exultant cries. An insect in the foliage be
gan a creaking call, and then all the creatures of
humidity hidden there among this fermenting vegeta
tion joined in mocking chorus.
The Maestro felt a vague blush welling up from
the innermost recesses of his being.
" I m going to get that kid," he muttered, darkly,
" if I have to wait till the coming of Common Sense
to the Manila office! By gum, he s the Struggle for
Attendance personified ! "
He sat down on the bank and waited. This did not
prove interesting. The animals of the ditch creaked
on ; the carabao bubbled up the water with his deep
content; above, the abandoned kite went through
strange acrobatics and wailed as if in pain. The
Maestro dipped his hand into the water ; it was hike-
STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH 79
warm. " No hope of a freeze out," he murmured,
Behind, the pony began to pull at the reins.
" Yes, little horse, I m tired, too. Well," he said,
apologetically, " I hate to get energetic, but there
are circumstances which "
The end of his sentence was lost, for he had whisked
out the big Colt, dissuader of ladrones, that hung on
his belt, and was firing. The six shots went off like
a bunch of firecrackers, but far from at random, for
a regular circle boiled up around the dozing carabao.
The disturbed animal snorted, and again a discreet
" cluck-cluck " rose in the sudden, astounded silence.
" This," said the Maestro, as he calmly introduced
fresh cartridges into the chambers of his smoking
weapon, " is what might be called an application of
Western solutions to Eastern difficulties."
Again he brought his revolver down, but he raised
it without shooting and replaced it in its holster.
From beneath the carabao s rotund belly, below the
surface, an indistinct form shot out ; cleaving the
water like a polliwog, it glided for the bank, and then
a black, round head emerged at the feet of the
" All right, bub ; we ll go to school now," said the
latter, nodding to the dripping figure as it rose be
He lifted the sullen brownie and straddled him
forward of the saddle, then proceeded to mount him
self, when the Capture began to display marked agita
tion. He squirmed and twisted, turned his head back
and up, and finally a grunt escaped him.
" El velador."
" The kite, to be sure ; we mustn t forget the kite,"
acquiesced the Maestro, graciously. He pulled up
the anchoring stick and laboriously, beneath the hos-
tilely critical eye of the Capture, he hauled in the
line till the screeching, resisting flying-machine was
brought to earth. Then he vaulted into the saddle.
The double weight was a little too much for the
pony ; so it was at a dignified walk that the Maestro,
his naked, dripping, muddy and still defiant prisoner
a-straddle in front of him, the captured kite passed
over his left arm like a knightly shield, made his tri
umphal entry into the pueblo.
II HEROISM AND REVERSES
When Maestro Pablo rode down Rizal-y-Washing-
ton Street to the schoolhouse with his oozing, drip
ping prize between his arms, the kite like a knightly
escutcheon against his left side, he found that in
spite of his efforts at preserving a modest, self-
deprecatory bearing, his spine would stiffen and his
STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH 81
nose point upward in the unconscious manifestations
of an internal feeling- that there was in his attitude
something picturesquely heroic. Not since walking
down the California campus one morning after the
big game, won three minutes before the blowing of the
final whistle by his fifty-yard run-in of a punt, had
he been in that posture at once pleasant and diffi
cult in which one s vital concern is to wear a humil
ity sufficiently convincing to obtain from friends for
giveness for the crime of being great.
A series of incidents immediately following, how
ever, made the thing quite easy.
Upon bringing the new recruit into the school-
house, to the perfidiously expressed delight of the
already incorporated, the Maestro called his native
assistant to obtain the information necessary to a
full matriculation. At the first question the inquisi
tion came to a deadlock. The boy did not know his
" In Spanish times," the Assistant suggested, mod
estly, " we called them de los Reyes when the father
was of the army, and 4 de la Cruz when the father
was of the church ; but now, we can never know what
The Maestro dashed to a solution. " All right,"
he said, cheerily. " I caught him ; guess I can give
him a name. Call him Isidro de los Maestros."
And thus it was that the urchin went down on the
school records, and on the records of life after
Now well pleased with himself, the Maestro, as is
the wont of men in such state, sought for further
" Ask him," he said, teasingly, pointing with his
chin at the newly-baptised but still unregenerate little
savage, " why he came out of the ditch."
" He says he was afraid that you would steal the
kite," answered the Assistant, after some linguistic
" Eh? " ejaculated the surprised Maestro.
And in his mind there framed a picture of himself
riding along the road with a string between his
fingers ; and, following in the upper layers of air, a
buzzing kite ; and, down in the dust of the highway,
an urchin trudging wistfully after the kite, drawn on
irresistibly, in spite of his better judgment, on and
on, horrified but fascinated, up to the yawning school-
It would have been the better way. " I ought to go
and soak my head," murmured the Maestro, pensively.
This was check number one, but others came in
For, the morning after this incident, the Maestro
did not find Isidro among the weird, wild crowd gath-
STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH 83
ered into the annex (a transformed sugar storehouse)
by the last raid of the Municipal Police.
Neither was Isidro there the next day, nor the next.
And it was not till a week had passed that the Maes
tro discovered, with an inward blush of shame, that
his much-longed-for pupil was living in the little hut
behind his own house. There would have been nothing
shameful in the overlooking there were seventeen
other persons sharing the same abode were it not
that the nipa front of this human hive had been
blown away by the last baguio, leaving an unob
structed view of the interior, if it might be called
such. As it was, the Municipal Police was mobilised
at the urgent behest of the Maestro. Its " cabo,"
flanked by two privates armed with old German
needle-guns, besieged the home and, after an inter
esting game of hide-and-go-seek, Isidro was finally
caught by one arm and one ear, and ceremoniously
marched to school. And there the Maestro asked him
why he had not been attending.
" No hay pantalones," (there are no pants), Isidro
answered, dropping his eyes modestly to the ground.
This was check number two, and unmistakably so,
for was it not a fact that a civil commission, over-
zealous in its civilising ardour, had passed a law
commanding that everyone should wear, when in pub
lic, " at least one garment, preferably trousers " ?
Following this, and an unsuccessful plea to the
town tailor, who was on a three weeks vacation on
account of the death of a fourth cousin, the Maestro
shut himself up a whole day with Isidro in his little
nipa house ; and behind the closely-shut shutters en
gaged in some mysterious toil. When they emerged
again the next morning, Isidro wended his way to
the school at the end of the Maestro s arm, trousered !
The trousers, it must be said, had a certain cachet
of distinction. They were made of calico-print, with
a design of little black skulls sprinkled over a yellow
background. Some parts hung flat and limp as if
upon a scarecrow; others pulsed like a fire-hose in
action with the pressure of flesh compressed beneath,
while at other points they bulged pneumatically in
little footballs. The right leg dropped to the ankle ;
the left stopped, discouraged, a few inches below the
knee. The seams looked like the putty mountain-
chains of the geography class. As the Maestro strode
along he threw rapid glances at his handiwork, and
it was plain that the emotions that moved him were
somewhat mixed in character. His face showed traces
of a puzzled diffidence, as that of a man who has come
in a sack-coat to a full-dress affair; but after all
it was satisfaction that predominated, for after this
heroic effort he had decided that Victory had at last
perched upon his banners.
STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH 85
And it really looked so for a time. Isidro stayed
at school at least during that first day of his trou
sered life. For when the Maestro, later in the fore
noon, paid a visit to the Annex, he found the Assist
ant in charge standing disconcerted before the urchin
who, with eyes indignant and hair perpendicular upon
the top of his head, was evidently holding to his side
of the argument with his customary energy.
Isidro was trouserless. Sitting rigid upon his
bench, holding on with both hands as if in fear of
being removed, he dangled naked legs to the sight of
who might look.
" Que barbaridad ! " murmured the Assistant, in
But Isidro threw at him a look of black hatred.
This became a tense, silent plea for justice as it
moved up for a moment to the Maestro s face, and
then it settled back upon its first object in frigid
"Where are your trousers, Isidro?" asked the
Isidro relaxed his convulsive grasp of the bench
with one hand, canted himself slightly to one side,
just long enough to give an instantaneous view of the
trousers, neatly folded and spread between what he
was -sitting with and what he was sitting on, then
swung back with the suddenness of a kodak shutter,
seized his seat with new determination, and looked
eloquent justification at the Maestro.
" Why will you not wear them? " asked the latter.
" He says he will not get them dirty," said the
Assistant, interpreting the answer.
" Tell him when they are dirty he can go down to
the river and wash them," said the Maestro.
Isidro pondered over the suggestion for two silent
minutes. The prospect of a day spent splashing in
the lukewarm waters of the Hog he finally put
down as not at all detestable, and, getting up to his
" I will put them on," he said, gravely.
Which he did on the moment, with an absence of
hesitation as to which was front and which was back ?
very flattering to the Maestro.
That Isidro persevered during the next week, the
Maestro also came to know. For now, regularly every
evening, as he smoked and lounged upon his long,
cane chair, trying to persuade his tired body against
all laws of physics to give up a little of its heat to a
circumambient atmosphere of temperature equally
enthusiastic ; as he watched among the rafters of the
roof the snakes swallowing the rats, the rats devour
ing the lizards, the lizards snapping up the spiders,
the spiders snaring the flies in eloquent representation
of the life struggle, his studied passiveness would be
STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH 87
broken by strange sounds from the dilapidated hut
at the back of his house. A voice imitative of that of
the Third Assistant who taught the annex, hurled
forth questions which were immediately answered by
another voice, curiously like that of Isidro.
Fiercely: " Du yu ssee dde hhett? "
Breathlessly : " Yiss I ssee dde hhett."
Ferociously : " Show me dde hhett."
Eagerly : " Here are dde hhett."
Thunderously : " Gif me dde hhett."
Exultantly : " I gif yu dde hhett."
Then the Maestro would step to the window and
look into the hut from which came this Socratic dia
logue. And on this wall-less platform, which looked
much like a primitive stage, a singular action was
unrolling itself in the smoky glimmer of a two-cent
lamp. The Third Assistant was not there at all ; but
Isidro was the Third Assistant. And the pupil was
not Isidro, but the witless old man who was one of the
many sharers of the abode. In the voice of the Third
Assistant, Isidro was hurling out the tremendous
questions ; and, as the old gentleman who represented
Isidro opened his mouth only to drule betel- juice, it
was Isidro who, in Isidro s voice, answered the ques
tions. In his role as Third Assistant he stood with
legs akimbo before the pupil, a bamboo twig in his
hand; as Isidro the pupil, he plumped down quickly
upon the bench before responding. The sole function
of the senile old man seemed that of representing the
pupil while the question was being asked and receiv
ing, in that capacity, a sharp cut across the nose
from Isidro-the-Third- Assistant s switch, at which he
chuckled to himself in silent and liquid joy.
For several nights this performance went on with
gradual increase of vocabulary in teacher and pupil.
But when it had reached the " Do you see the apple-
tree? " stage, it ceased to advance, marked time for
a while, and then slowly but steadily began sliding
back into primitive beginnings. This engendered in
the Maestro a suspicion which became certainty when
Isidro entered the schoolhouse, one morning just be
fore recess, between two policemen at port arms. A
rapid scrutiny of the rollbook showed that he had
been absent a whole week.
" I was at the river cleaning my trousers," an
swered Isidro, when put face to face with this curious
The Maestro suggested that the precious panta
loons, which, by the way, had been mysteriously em
bellished by a red stripe down the right leg and a
green stripe down the left leg, could be cleaned in less
than a week, and that Saturday and Sunday were
days specially set aside in the Catechismo of the
Americanos for such little family duties.
STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH 89
Isidro understood ; and the nightly rehearsals soon
reached the stage of:
" How menny hhetts hev yu ? "
" I hev ten hhetts."
Then came another arrest of development, and
another decline, at the end of which Isidro, again
making his appearance flanked by two German needle-
guns, caused a blush of remorse to suffuse the Maes
tro by explaining with frigid gravity that his mother
had given birth to a little pickaninny brother and
that, of course, he had had to help.
But significant events in the family did not stop
there. After birth, death stepped in for its due.
Isidro s relatives began to drop off in rapid sequence
each demise demanding three days of meditation in
retirement till at last the Maestro, who had had the
excellent idea of keeping upon paper a record of
these unfortunate occurrences, was looking with stu
por upon a list showing that Isidro had lost, within
three weeks, two aunts, three grandfathers, and five
grandmothers which, considering that an actual
count proved the house of bereavement still able to
boast of seventeen occupants, was plainly an
Following a long sermon from the Maestro, in
which he sought to explain to Isidro that he must
always tell the truth for sundry philosophical reasons
a statement which the First Assistant tactfully
smoothed to something within range of credulity by
translating it that one must not lie to Americanos,
because Americanos do not like it there came a
period of serenity.
IH THE TRIUMPH
There came to the Maestro days of peace and joy.
Isidro was coming to school; Isidro was learning
English. Isidro was steady, Isidro was docile, Isidro
was positively so angelic that there was something
uncanny about the situation. And with Isidro, other
little savages were being pruned into the school-going
stage of civilisation. Helped by the police, they were
pouring in from barrio and hacienda ; the attendance
was going up by leaps and bounds, till at last a circu-
lative report showed that Balangilang had passed the
odious Cabancalam with its less strenuous school
man, and left it in the ruck by a full hundred. The
Maestro was triumphant; his chest had gained two
inches in expansion. When he met Isidro at recess,
playing cibay, he murmured softly : " You little devil ;
you were Attendance personified, and I ve got you
now." At which Isidro, pausing in the act of throw
ing a shell with the top of his head at another shell
on the ground, looked up beneath long lashes in a
smile absolutely seraphic.
STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH 91
In the evening the Maestro, his heart sweet with
content, stood at the window. These were moonlight
nights ; in the grassy lanes the young girls played
graceful Spanish games, winding like garlands to a
gentle song ; from the shadows of the huts came the
tinkle-tinkle of serenading guitars and yearning notes
of violins wailing despairing love. And Isidro, seated
on the bamboo ladder of his house, went through an
independent performance. He sang " Good-night,
Ladies," the last song given to the school, sang it in
soft falsetto, with languorous drawls, and never-end
ing organ points, over and over again, till it changed
character gradually, dropped into a wailing minor,
an endless croon full of the obscure melancholy of a
race that dies.
" Goo-oo-oo nigh-igh-igh loidies-ies-ies ; goo-oo-oo
nigh-igh-igh loidies-ies-ies; goo-oo-oo-oo nigh-igh-
igh loidies-ies-ies-ies," he repeated and repeated, over
and over again, till the Maestro s soul tumbled down
and down abysses of maudlin tenderness, and Isidro s
chin fell upon his chest in a last drawling, sleepy note.
At which he shook himself together and began the
next exercise, a recitation, all of one piece from first to
last syllable, in one high, monotonous note, like a
mechanical doll saying " papa-mamma."
" Oh-look-et-de-moon -she-ees-shinin -up-theyre-oh-
mudder-she -look-like-a-lom-in-de -ayrc-lost-night-she-
was -smalleyre -on-joos-like-a -bow-boot-now -she-ees-
Then a big gulp of air, and again :
" Oh-look -et -de -moon -she -ees -shinin -up -theyre,
An hour of this, and he skipped from the lyric
to the patriotic, and then it was :
Off-rrid-on-whit-on-bloo-oo-oo ! "
By this time the Maestro was ready to go to bed,
and long in the torpor of the tropic night there came
to him, above the hum of the mosquitoes fighting at
the net, the soft, wailing croon of Isidro, back at his
" Goo-oo-oo nigh-igh-igh loidies-ies-ies."
These were days of ease and beauty to the Maestro,
and he enjoyed them the more when a new problem
came to give action to his resourceful brain.
The thing was : For three days there had not been
one funeral in Balangilang.
In other climes, in other towns, this might have
been a source of congratulation, perhaps, but not in
Balangilang. There were rumours of cholera in the
towns to the north, and the Maestro, as President of
STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH 93
the Board of Health, was on the watch for it. Five
deaths a day, experience had taught him, was the
healthy average for the town ; and this sudden cessa
tion of public burials he could not believe that dying
had stopped was something to make him sus
It was over this puzzling situation that he was
pondering at the morning recess, when his attention
was taken from it by a singular scene.
The " batas " of the school were flocking and push
ing and jolting at the door of the basement, which
served as stable for the municipal carabao. Elbowing
his way to the spot, the Maestro found Isidro at the
entrance, gravely taking up an admission of five
shells from those who would enter. Business seemed
to be brisk ; Isidro had already a big bandana hand
kerchief bulging with ttfc receipts, which were now
overflowing into a great tao hat, obligingly loaned
him by one of his admirers, as one by one those lucky
enough to have the price filed in, feverish curiosity
upon their faces.
The Maestro thought it might be well to go in also,
which he did without paying admission. The disap
pointed gatekeeper followed him. The Maestro found
himself before a little pink-and-blue tissue-paper box,
frilled with rosettes.
" What have you in there? " asked the Maestro.
" My brother," answered Isidro, sweetly.
He cast his eyes to the ground and watched his big
toe drawing vague figures in the earth, then, appeal
ing to the First Assistant, who was present by this
time, he added, in the tone of virtue which will be
" Maestro Pablo does not like it when I do not come
to school on account of a funeral, so I brought him
[pointing to the little box] with me."
"Well, I ll be ," was the only comment the
Maestro found adequate at the moment.
" It is my little pickaninny brother," went on
Isidro, becoming alive to the fact that he was a centre
of interest ; " and he died last night of the great
" The great what? " ejaculated the Maestro, who
had caught a few words.
" The great sickness," explained the Assistant.
" That is the name by which these ignorant people
call the cholera."
For the next two hours the Maestro was very busy.
Firstly he gathered the " batas " who had been
rich enough to attend Isidro s little show and locked
them up with the impresario himself in the little
town jail close by. Then, after a vivid exhortation
upon the beauties of boiling water and reporting dis
ease, he dismissed the school for an indefinite period.
STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH 95
After which, impressing the two town prisoners, now
temporarily out of home, he shouldered Isidro s pretty
box, tramped to the cemetery, and directed the dig
ging of a grave six feet deep. When the earth had
been scraped back upon the lonely little object, he
returned to town and transferred the awe-stricken
playgoers to his own house, where a strenuous per
formance took place.
Tolio, his boy, built a most tremendous fire outside
and set upon it all the pots and pans and cauldrons
and cans of his kitchen arsenal, filled with water.
When these began to gurgle and steam, the Maestro
set himself to stripping the horrified bunch in his
room; one by one he threw the garments out of the
window to Tolio, who, catching them, stuffed them
into the receptacles, poking down their bulging pro
test with a big stick. Then the Maestro mixed an
awful brew in an old oilcan, and, taking the brush
which was commonly used to sleek up his little pony,
he dipped it generously into the pungent stuff and
began an energetic scrubbing of his now absolutely
panic-stricken wards. When he had done this to his
satisfaction and thoroughly to their discontent, he
let them put on their still steaming garments, and
they slid out of the house, aseptic as hospitals.
Isidro he kept longer. He lingered over him with
loving and strenuous care, and after he had him
externally clean proceeded to dose him internally
from a little red bottle. Isidro took everything the
terrific scrubbing, the exaggerated dosing, the ruin
ous treatment of his pantaloons with wonder-eyed
When all this was finished, the Maestro took the
urchin into the dining-room and, seating him on his
best bamboo chair, he courteously offered him a fine,
The next instant he was suffused with the light of a
new revelation. For, stretching out his hard little
claw to receive the gift, the boy had shot at him
a glance so mild, so wistful, so brown-eyed, filled
with such mixed admiration, trust, and appeal, that a
a queer softness had risen in the Maestro from some
where down in the regions of his heel, up and up,
quietly, like the mercury in the thermometer, till it
had flowed through his whole body and stood still,
its high-water mark a little lump in his throat.
" Why, Lord bless us-ones, Isidro," said the Maes
tro, quietly. " We re only a child, after all, a
mere baby, my man. And don t we like to go to
" Senor Pablo," asked the boy, looking up softly
into the Maestro s still perspiring visage, " Senor
Pablo, is it true that there will be no school because
of the great sickness ? "
STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH 97
"Yes, it is true," answered the Maestro. "No
school for a long, long time."
Then Isidro s mouth began to twitch queerly, and,
suddenly throwing himself full length upon the floor,
he hurled out from somewhere within him a long,
OUT of the deadly stupor that encased him as a
leaden coffin, Burke started with a gurgling cry. He
thought that somebody was driving a red-hot poker
into his eyeballs. He found only that the flaming
globe of the rising sun had just emerged over the
lorcha s bow bulwarks and was burrowing his face
with its feverish rays. He rolled clumsily down the
sloping deck to a spot where a flap of dirty sail
gave shade and there he lay weakly on his back,
The change gave him little comfort. His eyes
throbbed hotly, his throat was as if scraped raw, and
his mouth was fevered. A circle of iron seemed riv
eted around his head and his whole body vibrated to
a mad dance of all his nerves. At last he could stand
it no longer. He sat up and looked about him des
perately, then crawled to the scuppers and picked up
a flask lying there. He held it up against the sun.
It was empty. With a curse he hurled it into dia
mond-dust against the bulwarks.
He sat there a moment, glassy-eyed, then rose with
THE FAILURE 99
a trembling effort and groped aft to the cabin. He
had to kick a mangy dog out of the way and to step
over a squalid baby, but finally he fell on his knees
in a corner and eagerly searched beneath the bamboo
bench that followed the wall on three sides. He rolled
a dirty bundle out of the way and pulled a demijohn
toward him. He lowered the mouth tentatively till
a few drops of the fiery white beno wet the palm of
his hand, then, with a cry between a sob and a snarl,
like that of a starving dog closing in on a bone, he
raised the jug to his lips and drained the dregs in
four big gulps. His trembling fingers opened and the
demijohn fell to the floor with a crash.
A faint colour came to his cheeks and his body
straightened. He searched his pockets with feverish
fingers and drew out a soiled cigarette paper and a
pinch of tobacco. He rolled a cigarette, lit it, and
went out on the deck. A breath of wind, sweet with
the fruity smell of crude sugar, struck him in the
face, and he noticed for the first time what had been
true since his awakening that the lorcha had come
to a standstill and that the white roofs of Manila
were glistening before him.
The sight did not seem to quicken him into action.
He strolled down the deck and sat on the bulwarks,
his legs dangling above the quay. He inhaled the
smoke deeply two or three times, then his back
humped and his eyes narrowed like those of a purring
This lethargy of bliss did not last long. Slowly
something forced itself into it with the insistence of
a question mark. On the quay almost beneath his
feet, there were four long, black boxes, ranged sym
metrically in a row, each with its long, black cover
by its side. At first they said nothing to his half-
stupid contemplation, but gradually they took on
something mysterious and awesome. They were so
regular, so oblong, so respectable; they stood so
gapingly, so alertly open, that suddenly a little shud
der thrilled up along his spine. Ten feet away, rigid
and alert, a big Met. policeman stood, looking along
the quay with patiently expectant eyes. Burke was
on the point of calling out a question when his atten
tion was drawn by another scene.
A little rosy pig trotted squealing down the deck
with a fierce little boy after it. It bumped the bulwark
beneath Burke, and the vibration caused him to look
down. The boy had the pig by the tail. The boy was
pulling one way and the pig the other; they were of
equal strength, so that for a second they were fixed
in a plastic group. Struggling impotently, the boy
turned his big black eyes up to the man in mute
appeal, and the big black eyes suddenly recalled to
Burke two other such eyes in just such a little brown
THE FAILURE 101
face, and these big black eyes became a measure of
the road that Burke had travelled the last three years,
a road he liked not to contemplate. So he was turning
from the unpleasant scene when the boy let go the
tail and fell back, rigid.
Burke looked down upon the stark little form with
a frown of perplexity and distrust. He slid himself
along the bulwark till a few feet away, then ran his
eyes up along the mainmast.
At the peak, a yellow flag was smacking in the
His eyes dropped to the boxes on the quay. They
He understood. The cholera had crept upon the
lorcha before it had left Vigan, and all the way down
the coast it had been doing its dread work about him,
plunged in the oblivion of his solitary orgy.
There had been seventy people on the lorcha when
it had left Vigan ; and there were still a half -hundred.
They were huddled forward, a squalid, rancid, and
coloured group, their eyes wistfully set upon a black
pot vibrating upon a fire of small sticks. They were
from the famine district of Vigan and had not eaten
for a long time, but their attention was not solely
upon the vessel holding their handful of rice. At
times they threw black looks toward the quay. Fear
was upon them; fear, not of the impalpable Death
hovering about them, but fear of the White Man s
Quarantine as represented by the big, passive
policeman standing there like a menace; the White
Man s Quarantine, ready to clutch them at the first
sign of disease and tear them off to its den, to a fear
ful and ever-mysterious fate.
Burke looked at them, then pointed at the boy at
his feet, but they seemed to see nothing. He sprang
to the deck and he shouted. They turned their heads,
scowled indifferently at the little stretched body, then
their eyes returned to the black kettle quivering on
" Here, here, that won t do," cried Burke, all the
maudlin softness out of his face, as he marched upon
the group. " Get up, you hound ! " he thundered,
kicking the nearest man. " Get up, there ! And you,
too," he added, cuffing another. " Get up and take
care of the kid ! "
He laid about him furiously for a moment, then
his rage oozed out of him and he stood silent and at
loss. For the resistance offered him was unlike any
he had ever met. The men did not budge; they took
the blows like blocks of wood, remaining as they were,
without a tremor, their eyes glowing sullenly at the
deck between their knees ; and the passiveness of that
resistance was so monstrously powerful that Burke
THE FAILURE 103
felt his throat tighten in a rageful, childish impulse
to break out weeping.
On a box, a little apart from the crowd, there sat
a fat, sleek, pale-yellow personage. He observed the
scene through his narrow eyes with the arrogantly
skeptical air of the Chino mestizo. His falsetto
voice now broke the silence.
"Porque no listed?" he said, suavely, while his
eyes narrowed to a line with a gleam in it. " Why not
Burke opened his mouth, left it open for a good
second, then shut it again with a grinding of teeth.
" By God, I ll do it," he muttered, as he turned
He went to the boy, made a movement as if to pick
him up, hesitated, stood irresolute for a moment,
then, with a blinding flash of resolution, such as in
the past had carried him off into postures of which
others said resounding things and of which he him
self was vaguely ashamed, he stooped quickly and
whisked up the little body into his arms. He crossed
the deck, and as he passed his old army blanket, lying
still open on the floor, he picked it up and wrapped it
about the boy; then he laid the whole burden down
in a sheltered spot against the cabin. A sudden,
springy alertness had seized his body, and beneath
the pussy alcoholic flesh of his face had sprung tight
ropy lines not yet corroded. He tore off the light
camisa and pantaloons and began rubbing the stiff
ened limbs. He rubbed with an energy almost savage,
and he felt under his fingers the stark flesh loosen
and warm up and live again. The glazed eyes soft
ened, the lids closed slowly, and they reopened with
the light of life beneath them.
And then it was worse. Burke sprang to his feet.
His bloated face took on the colour of his khaki
jacket and beads of perspiration welled up about his
lips. Then his eyebrows snapped down in one black
line, and his lower jaw advanced till it almost crushed
out the double chin. For the next hour he worked
with concentrated rage.
A thunder of wheels over the cobbles of the quay
froze him into a listening attitude. The noise stopped
in a creaking of brakes, and Burke rose slowly,
stretching his body to full length. He walked to the
bulwarks and looked out. A big, black wagon was
standing by. From it two men alighted, putting on
great rubber gloves. Burke came down the gang
plank, bearing the boy in his arms. " Hurry up, he
may pull through," he said. They placed the little
form in the wagon and rumbled off to the heavy trot
of the weary horses. The Met. carelessly took a posi
tion between Burke and the street, but this was not
necessary. Burke looked down at the coffins, raised
THE FAILURE 105
his head, took a big gulp of fresh air, and walked
back up the plank.
Ten minutes later a light buggy drove up. An
officer with a brass cross on the collar of his khaki
jacket sprang out and walked aboard.
Burke went to his feet and his hand rose to his hat
in military salute. " Good-morning, sir," he said.
The officer s eyes wandered over the boat, taking
in all the details swiftly, then came back to the man
standing there at attention. He looked at the bloated
face, with its ruins of strength beneath ; at the blood
shot eyes, with their remnant of calm, blue light ;
at the great, corroded body, with its something yet
" Jerry Burke ! " he said.
" Glad you remember me," said the man, with a
slight sarcasm in his voice.
The officer looked at him again, with a long, sweep
ing glance that took in the bloated face, the bloodshot
eyes, the twisted mouth, the dirty, ragged collar, the
greasy jacket, the trembling, clutching hands, the
corkscrewed trousers, the heelless shoes the whole
abject picture of human degradation there before
" And that s what you have become," he said, at
Jerry did not answer.
" Why the devil didn t you go home with the Vol
unteers ? " asked the officer, angrily.
Jerry s lips trembled.
" It had got too bad by that time," he answered,
" You can see."
The officer paced the deck.
" Who took care of that boy? " he asked, suddenly,
turning upon Jerry with a snarl.
" I did," answered the latter, surprised into ac
The officer went back to his pacing. At the tenth
turn he stopped short, pivoted on his heel, and faced
" You were a man once, weren t you ? " he asked.
" I suppose so," answered Jerry, hanging his head.
" At least, you ought to know," he added, a little
" Well, do you want to be a man again ? "
Jerry was looking at the deck. He raised his eyes
slowly till they plunged into the surgeon s.
" Can you do it? " he asked, steadily. " I can t! "
The officer s manner softened.
" Well, here s the matter. I m short of Health men.
I need somebody on this derelict. You are the man;
you re in quarantine, anyway."
THE FAILURE 107
Jerry waited for more.
" This afternoon the lorcha will be towed behind
the breakwater. She ll be in strict quarantine. You ll
be in charge. I ll give you disinfectants and medi
cines. You ll keep the boat clean, and you ll attend
the sick. Whenever somebody tumbles over, run up
the yellow flag and we ll come after him as soon as we
can. Every morning I ll come around and see how
you are getting along."
" How long will it last ? " asked Jerry.
" Don t know. Till they re all gone, perhaps. There
must be five days quarantine after each case. If they
die close together, it will be short. If they go five
days apart, it may last six months. Six months to
make a man of you, Jerry; will you do it? "
" It will be hell," said Jerry, with a tense smile.
" It will be hell," acquiesced the surgeon. " You
must work, Jerry."
" I ll do it," said Jerry.
That afternoon the lorcha was towed behind the
breakwater, and at sunset a woman who was lighting
the fire for the evening meal whirled on her heels and
slapped the deck with the whole length of her body.
Jerry ran up the yellow flag, but the night had
dropped like a thunderbolt, and it was not seen from
shore ; so he cared for her till morning. She was old
and knotted and decrepit; her teeth were gone, and
she was loathesomely unclean, but he worked over her
with rigid patience, not ceasing for a moment, for the
Demon was already clutching at him. At dawn a boat
pulled up and the woman was lowered into it, still
Then the sun rose, blinding hot, and Jerry
paced the deck furiously. The groups of sleepers
on deck were disentangling beneath the stinging an
nouncement of the new day, and they scattered in
awe before the strange Americano, tugging among
them with great steps that were almost leaps. At last
a little steamer appeared at the mouth of the river;
it slid along on the other side of the breakwater,
turned at the end, and chugged alongside the lorcha.
It was the doctor s launch.
Burke stepped to the bulwarks and looked down at
the boat wallowing in the cross-seas. Huntington was
standing on the rail, his right hand against the side
of the lorcha, his body giving easily to every shock ;
and Burke gazed hungry-eyed at his cool, alert
" Well, how goes it ? " asked the surgeon.
" One case," said Burke, calmly.
" That means five days more. What is it ? "
" A woman ; she s at the hospital now," he an
swered, in the same rigid, subdued tone.
THE FAILURE 109
" And you? " asked the surgeon.
" For God s sake," cried Burke, his voice breaking
into frenzy, " give me something to do, something
to do ! "
" All right, old man," answered Huntington, show
ing no surprise. " Throw us a rope."
Burke threw a rope. A case was tied to it and
hauled on deck.
" Chlorodyne," announced the surgeon.
The rope was thrown back. A demijohn was hauled
up, then another, and another.
" Carbolic," shouted Huntington. " Disinfect the
" All right ; good-by," said Burke.
The doctor waved his hand, and the launch churned
The day was heavy with heat. The wind had
died, the sea was glazed, and the tin roofs of Manila
glistened white. A torpor fell from the brazen heavens,
and all day Burke struggled beneath it in a frenzy
of toil. When he had cleaned the boat thoroughly, he
arranged the little cabin into a hospital. Almost im
mediately it had its occupant. A boy was down.
Jerry laid him on his cot, pried his teeth open with
his knife, and poured some chlorodyne between them ;
then walked to the mainmast, and soon to the watch
ers on shore the leprous banner rose against the gory
hues of the setting sun. The boat came and took the
When the launch came, in the morning, Burke was
standing at the head of the ladder. All the traces of
a fearful night were in his face, and yet Huntington s
scrutiny found something satisfactory in the man.
The old khaki suit had been washed, and hung, still
damp, upon his frame.
More medicines and disinfectants, a supply of food
and distilled water, several objects, very vulgar and
very grim, were passed up, and then the doctor asked :
" Anything you need, old man? "
Burke shook his head in indecisive negative.
" I have you on the pay-roll," added the officer,
casually ; " assistant inspector ; three-and-a-half a
Burke dropped his eyes to the deck. Then he
"Yes, two khakis."
" All right," said Huntington, rapidly measuring
with his eye the frame before him. " Anything else? "
Again an embarrassed silence, then another burst:
" A razor."
" I ll send the things this afternoon," said Hunt
ington, gladder than his voice implied.
Burke went back to his work. After disinfecting
his little hospital he executed, with the aid of Tionko,
THE FAILURE 111
the Chino mestizo, whose oily good will and linguis
tic ability were fast becoming indispensable, a plot
hatched during the sleeplessness of the night. First
the men, then the women, were filed into a bath house
made of sails and forced to bathe in warm, carbolised
water, while their clothes boiled in cauldrons outside.
By sunset the passenger list of the Bonita was clean,
at least externally.
Then the usual commotion forward told Burke
that his work had begun again. This time it was a
child-mother, a pitiful, little black-eyed thing, with
a squalling whitish baby at her breast. It was too
late for the shore boat, so he cared for them. At mid
night the baby died and, two hours later, the mother ;
they lay side by side and, of the two, it was the
mother s face that looked the child s, and the baby s
the withered old. At daybreak the boat took them
Weeks followed, filled with the same stagnancy of
horror. The work had settled down to flat routine
and life became a fearful monotony as day after day
poured its brazen heat upon the empested boat. The
only element of excitement lay in the ebb and flow of
disease. On some days two or three, once even five,
fell, and Burke s hospital over-filled and poured out
its burden upon the deck ; at other times there would
be periods of three or four days without a case, and
once the expiration of the mystical five days which
was to free the lorcha from its imprisonment was
almost reached when two men were suddenly felled as
if by the same thunderbolt. Burke s worst periods
were when the hospital was empty. On such days the
routine of his duties took him only a little past noon,
and then would come the full bitterness of the strug
gle. He found something to do and worked with teeth
set, but his hands trembled, his nerves were tortured,
and his eyes felt as if being pulled out of their sockets.
Then in the maddening monotony of this life there
crept another element.
Before lying down to his snatch of horror-broken
sleep, Jerry was accustomed to take a plunge over
the side, although the waters of the bay were full of
sharks. One night, as he was preparing to climb back
upon the lorcha, he reached in vain for the rope that
he had left dangling for the purpose. It had been
pulled up just out of his grasp. Treading water by
the black hull. Burke shouted repeatedly, but a sleep
deep as the night that wrapped the vessel seemed to
have its inhabitants, and his cries got no response.
" Listen," finally said Burke, talking calmly in
the silence. " Listen. You know how I can swim. If
that rope does not come down in ten seconds, I ll
swim to the big army boat to the right there. I ll
THE FAILURE 113
come back with fifty soldiers, and we ll hang you all
to the mast. Remember, the sharks do not touch me."
As mysteriously as it had been raised, the rope
dropped softly till its end touched the water. When
Burke, dripping, sprang on deck, a heavy silence was
upon the boat, broken only by the hoarse breathing
of the sleepers, spread about in limp attitudes like
the dead upon the battlefield.
A few days later, as he took up the demijohn in
which he kept his drinking water, brought distilled
from shore, he found the cork askew. He was always
careful to shut the vessel hermetically, and a sudden
suspicion made him turn the demijohn over and pour
its contents out upon the deck. The water gurgled
out, and when the vessel was empty Jerry found a
little piece of cloth sticking to the inside of the gullet.
He drew it out, and an icy shiver ran up his spine.
He held in his hand a little square of red and yellow
calico. The last cholera victim of the Bonita, a
woman, had worn a sarong of red and yellow calico.
He threw the demijohn overboard, and when he had
obtained a new one from shore he slept against it at
Burke began to observe his crew, and this gave
him little satisfaction. Beneath the oriental passive-
ness, malevolence was boiling. His orders, it is true,
were obeyed; but it was with heaviness of movement
and dulness of eye ; and in the periods of rest, sullen,
squatting groups formed, that broke out in whisper
ings and oblique looks, to be scattered usually by the
bowing, smirking, oily Chino, Tionko. And of all
the ominous signs, there was none that displeased
Burke more than the behaviour of the Chino this
evident eagerness to save the face of things, to
glaze over the dark working beneath with a serene
They were on one of these periods of immunity
from disease which drew all nerves tense. Three days
had passed, then four; they entered upon the fifth.
Twenty-four hours more would set the Bonita
free from the iron clutches of the quarantine. That
day was a bad one. The solidarity in misfortune that
had bound the unfortunates of the lorcha broke into
a ferocious individualism. All work ceased that
morning. The population of the Bonita divided
into groups ; these segregated more and more as the
day advanced, till finally each man was squatting
alone, with glaring threat in his eyeballs. God help
the one who should come down ; the execration of the
whole boat was already fo cussed upon him.
At last the brazen day melted into the purple even
ing and night came, with a trembling crescent of
moon in the sky and a horizon vibrating in sheet
lightning. Burke prepared himself for what was
THE FAILURE 115
likely to be his last night of vigil. He lit a lantern
and began pacing to and fro to keep awake, usually
an easy thing for him to do. Toward midnight, he
stopped and leaned against the mainmast, gazing at
the weird flashing of light at the horizon. Insensibly
he went asleep. His head fell on his breast, his legs
sagged beneath him, and he slid softly down till he
sat upon the deck, his back against the mast.
Suddenly he found himself sitting bolt upright,
all his faculties stiffened in alarm. The turbulent
fancies of his slumber had merged into something
tense and sharp as reality, and his ears still rang
with low moans, a scurry of feet, and a strangled
cry. Now that he was fully awake, however, the night
was heavy with silence, only the tide bubbling and
tinkling and crooning along the flanks of the boat.
He lay back a moment, but his senses had been
too acutely wrung, and, picking up the lantern, he
Everything was quiet. Indistinct forms were
stretched about the deck, and the breathing of the
sleepers rhythmed the silence. Near the anchor, Burke
recognised Tionko. The Chino s chest was rising and
falling in deep, regular movement ; he moaned inartic
ulately as Burke bent over him with his lantern.
Burke was turning away when, in the movement,
the light of the lantern fell upon the rope up which
he had clambered on the night of the first mysterious
attack against him. Although not used any more, it
had been left hanging over the side, and now, as
Burke s eyes fell upon it, in the glare of the light, it
was all a-tremble and a-thrill, like a live thing. Mum
bling sleepily about the strength of the tide, Burke
gave it a pull. A resistance met him, as that of a line
with a fish hooked at the end. Puzzled, he went over
the side, holding to the bulwark and bending down
as far as he could, and then, as he gave another tug,
two thin arms clutching the rope, and then a livid
face, bobbed up slowly into the pale moonlight.
Burke let himself down, his feet against the side,
his left hand grasping the rope. He bent down, his
right hand caught a handful of hair, and he drew
up on it. Taking the loose end of the rope, he passed
it beneath both limp arms, then, holding it between
his teeth, he clambered back to the deck and pulled
the whole body up. He sent the rays of his lantern
into the face, and recognised it as that of a young
boy of the lorcha.
He was still alive, but cholera had him. Burke
understood, but it was no time for punishment. He
carried the stiffened form to the hospital and for an
hour fought with Death ; but the shock had been too
much for the disease-racked body. When there was
nothing left to do, Burke turned back the blanket
THE FAILURE 117
over the rigid face, then stood still, his eyes cast
down at the deck.
" Tionko," he finally said, as if giving the answer
to some problem.
He picked up an iron belaying-pin, bared his arms,
and started toward the bow. As he reached the fore
mast, however, three shadows sprang at him from the
darkness ahead. With a sidewise leap he evaded them,
then waited, crouched low, with one hand upon the
deck. The men scattered in a circle surrounding him,
but before they could close in he sprang at one,
felled him with the shock of his body, and darted
behind the mast, where he stood, waiting.
There was a moment of hesitation among the
bravos, and they retreated toward the bow. Burke
left the mast to peer into the darkness; a knife
whizzed by his head, and he sprang back to his
They came forward again, and they were four this
time. Burke saw that the defensive would be useless.
With one leap he was among them, whacking to right
and left with his belaying-pin. A hatchet was raised
above his head, but the belaying-pin cracked the
wrist that held it and it clattered to the deck. A
streak of fire scorched his shoulder, but the badly-
aimed dagger dropped as the belaying-pin came down
upon its owner s cranium.
And all this time, while he laid about him with
instinctive parry and thrust, his eyes were riveted on
an indistinct form in the shadow behind, a form from
which came a running sound of encouragement, sug
gestion, command. Suddenly he sprang back, then
to one side, then forward and he had passed the
four struggling men. He took two running steps
forward, then his body left the deck and shot
through the air. With a thud it struck the man in
the shadow and crushed him down. Like a cat, Burke
was on his feet again. He picked up the body
by the waist, held it off at arm s length, brought it
back close to him long enough to see Tionko s face
in a grin of horror, then his arms distended like great
springs and Tionko shot over the bulwarks.
He turned to the others, but they had slunk away
in the darkness, and he knew that, the Chino gone,
there was no more to fear.
He peered out into the water, and the phosphores
cence showed him an indistinct form swimming slowly
away. Then it turned back, splashing painfully,
and a cracked falsetto voice whined in beggar-like
" Seiior, for the love of Christ, let me on ! "
Burke hesitated, and suddenly the thing was set
tled for him. From the right a phosphorescent flash
cut the water in a streak. Swift and luminous as a
THE FAILURE 119
rocket it came, straight toward the splashing form;
it struck it, and then the spot burst out in a great
bubble of light, in which Burke caught a flash of the
Chino, his arms raised to heaven, his mouth distended
in abominable fear. There was a hoarse croak, a
gurgle, and then the phosphorescence sank slowly and
went out in the depths below. A gentle ripple undu
lated over the darkened surface of the water and
broke softly against the flanks of the lorcha.
Burke, dizzied, walked forward. The limp, scat
tered sleepers were still there as before, but in one
corner a man was choking in his breathing, and near
the anchor another was vibrating in his sleep in one
long, continuous shudder.
There came another period of suspense. One day
passed, two days passed, with no cases. The
third day came, and Burke s Demon was clutch
He had found in the hold some rude native varnish,
redolent of crude alcohol, and had brought it up to
polish the crude furniture of his hospital; and now
he dared not come near it. The bucket stood by the
hatch, and Burke was pacing to and fro along the
deck like a wild beast. Each time he passed the bucket
the pungent odour stung his face, filling his mind
with the memory of one of his worst periods of
degradation and his whole physical being with a mad
ness to wallow back into it.
He fought hard. He knew that he must throw that
bucket overboard, so he forced his thoughts upon the
" I ll walk twenty times the length of the deck with
my mind on that," he muttered to himself.
So, concentrating his brain upon the necessary
deed, he began pacing up and down. At the twentieth
turn he walked toward the bucket and stopped sud
denly, livid as death, his eyes fixed stupidly upon his
In his right hand he held a stick, a little, pliable
He tried to remember picking it up ; he could not.
The act had been not of the will, of the will that was
fighting for mastery ; it had been forced by that
other Power, that Power which possessed his nerves,
his bones, his flesh, the Power he was seeking to kill.
" I will begin again," he muttered.
At the tenth turn he stopped short, and a cold
sweat welled up upon his body. He had another stick
in his hand.
And then, slowly, haltingly, but irresistibly, he
approached the bucket. With somnambulant rigidity
he placed the stick in the viscous stuff and slowly
rotated it once, as if tentatively ; then once more,
determinedly ; then again, with a sort of rage. The
heavy fluid followed the stick, turned on itself faster
and faster. A little whirlpool formed in the center.
Burke s eyes fixed themselves upon it, and silently the
little whirlpool sucked down all that was strong in
The stick scraped along the sides of the bucket;
the liquid circled swiftly. In a minute, in the depres
sion at the center, a black spot formed. The stick
turned faster. The black spot grew ; finally it was a
little round ball that sank to the bottom. The stick
whirled around madly. The little ball enlarged. From
all sides the like molecules rushed to it, rounding it
out as a snowball that is rolled downhill. At last it
was like a small cannon-ball. Burke bared his arms,
plunged them into the bucket, drew out the black,
pitchy solid and threw it overboard.
He rushed back, and his hollowed hand scooped up
a few drops of the now-white liquid and slapped it
to his lips. The taste drove him mad, and, dropping
down on hands and knees like a dog, he put his lips
to the side of the bucket and drew in long gulpfuls.
A little later the natives were all gathered at the
stern, looking with wonder upon the strange actions
of the Americano.
He was squatting on deck, the bucket between his
knees. At close intervals he raised it to his lips and
poured the awful contents down his throat. Then he
hugged the bucket, sobbing softly like a child being
consoled after suffering, and between his laughs and
his tears he gurgled to himself an endless story, full of
tearful self-compassion and sobbing, endearing terms,
long and soft and meaningless as the croon of a
Toward night he fell into a heavy stupor and lay
there on his back, his face to the moonlight, and the
tears drying on his cheeks.
In the morning, when the doctor s launch churned
out of the river, it had in tow the boat of the
Bonita filled with the people of the lorcha. They
had been caught by a patrol boat at midnight just
as they were on the point of landing on the Luneta.
The launch pulled up against the lorcha, and Hunt-
ington sprang aboard. Burke rose from the deck
and waited for him. He was hollow and drooping,
as if the bony frame had been removed from his body,
and his eyes were dead.
A look told the doctor what had happened.
"Yes," said Burke, corroborating the surgeon s
Huntington paced the deck.
" Well," he said, finally, " you did well to stand it
that long. Next time it will be longer."
Burke did not answer.
THE FAILURE 123
" We have to begin again."
" Begin again," echoed Burke, mechanically.
" You ll do it, old man," said Huntington, con
" My God, Huntington," said Burke, in a whisper;
" my God, Huntington, I killed Tionko ; I threw him
to the sharks, and now, look at me! "
When the launch had left, Burke crouched down in
a corner against the bulwarks, and there he sat the
morning long, his eyes glued stupidly to the deck.
At noon he suddenly got up, walked firmly to the
mainmast, and ran up the yellow flag.
When the boat came he went down the ladder and
sat himself in the sternsheets. The man in charge
looked at him inquiringly.
" Pull away," he said, shortly; " I ve got it."
SOME BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION
THAT by teaching the Filipinos the American
branch of the English language it was expected to
transfuse into them the customs, ideas, and ideals of
the speakers of that tongue, the Maestro vaguely
knew. But that this method would meet with the vig
orous and somewhat eccentric success that it did in
Senorita Constancia de la Rama, the Visayan young
lady whom he had trained to take charge of his girls
school, he had not dreamed. So, taken unaware by
the news, he flopped down on a chair with a low
whistle that finished off into something like a groan as
the situation presented itself to him in its full beauty.
And then, taken by that perverse desire which, in time
of catastrophe, impels us to rehearse all of the ele
ments that go to make our woe particularly unbear
able, he began to question the urchin who had brought
the note from Mauro Ledesma, one of the native
assistant teachers of the boys school.
" Senor Ledesma gave you that note, Isidro?"
" Yes, Senor Pablo, the little Filipino maestro gave
it to me," answered Isidro, careful in his discrimina
tion of masters.
" Where was he ; in the house? "
" Oh, yes, Senor Pablo, he was in the house he
was altogether inside of the house ! "
The Maestro eyed the boy with sudden suspicion.
He thought that he had detected a joyous note in the
statement of the native teacher s whereabouts. But
Isidro s return glance was liquid with innocence.
" And he called you? " went on the Maestro.
" Oh, no, Senor Pablo, he did not call me ! Ambro-
sio, his muchacho, called me! Senor Ledesma, he
stayed inside ! "
Again the Maestro started, for Isidro s sentence
formation seemed suspiciously appreciative. But the
little face he searched was wooden.
" He called you from the door? "
" From the window, Senor Pablo. The door, it was
locked. He called this way " (here Isidro de
scribed with his right arm a furious moulinet) . " He
said, sh-sh-sh-sh-sh, and then he moved his arm
this way " (again thje moulinet), "and then he
stopped his arm and moved his finger this way "
(here Isidro help up his hand before his face and
moved the index finger several times toward his nose
in a gesture full of mysterious significance).
" And then you went in ? "
"Yes, Senor Pablo. They opened the door, oh,
just a little, like that " (Isidro placed his hands
palm to palm with an interstice between them just
wide enough to allow the wiggling through of a very
lean serpent), "and I went in and they shut the
door again and put the bed up against it."
" Well, well ; and Maestro Ledesma, he was inside? "
" Oh, yes, Senor Pablo, he was inside. He was writ
ing this letter. And I think Senor Ledesma is very
sick, Senor Pablo, because when he was writing he
was all the time saying, Madre de Dios and
* Jesus-Maria-Joseph ! and making noises like this."
And Isidro convulsed himself in an effort that re
sulted in a vague imitation of the wail of a carabao
" And he gave you the letter when he had finished? "
" Yes, Senor Pablo, that is the letter," said Isidro,
pointing to the note on the table which had been the
Maestro s before-breakf ast thunderbolt. " He said,
run and give this letter to Maestro Pablo ; and so
I went, but I did not go out by the door."
"You didn t?"
" No, Senor Pablo. Maestro Ledesma, he said I
must not go out by the door. So they tied a rope
around me, and I went out by the window, in back,
and I ran here, and I did not stop to play cibay on
the way, Senor Pablo."
But Isidro s virtue was destined to go unrewarded.
The Maestro was deep in a re-reading of the disas
BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION 127
MUCH SENOR MINE AND REVERED TEACHER AND AD
VISER IN MY TIMES OF CALAMITY
I beseech you, my venerated Teacher and in many
ways Ancestor to come to my succor in this my most de
plorable state, and pull away from me the blackness of
Despair that is at the all-around of me.
I am a prisoner in my own house. In fear and trem
bling I dare not sleep, I dare not eat, and I cannot
leave my habitation to go to the school and perform my
sacred duties of teaching the ignorant and unhappy
youth of my sore-tried country the blessings and deliv
erance of the great country under the rustling shadows
of the stars and spangles which you have come so many
miles across the wetness of the sea to pull the black veil
of ignorance from our eyes.
Your Maestra, the Senorita Constancia de la Rama y
Lacson, is camped in my sugar fields, in front of my
house, and she will not decamp.
With loud threats of vengeance and audacious accusa
tion she declares that she will marry me.
But I do not want to marry her, most excellent sir, I
do not want to marry your Maestra, the Senorita Con
stancia de la Rama y Lacson !
O sir, my revered Master, I am all alone, my ancestral
father and mother being for a few weeks at our other
hacienda, and I implore you to save me from this my
desperate state. Come to me, oh please, and drive the
she-wolf from my door, and you shall ever receive a
gentle rain of unspeakable gratitude from
The Sore Heart of
Your humble Pupil
MAURO LEDESMA Y GOLES.
P.S. Viva America in Philippines ! Viva Philippines
in America! M. L. Y G.
" Go to school, Isidro," said the Maestro, when
he was through, in a voice so weak that the boy looked
up quickly, wondering whether everyone was ill that
fine, fragrant morning. " Tell Senor Abada to take
charge till I come."
The Maestro felt the necessity of some deep, care
ful thinking. For certainly, of all the difficulties
which, in his two years career, he had alertly fought
and conquered, none had ever confronted him of
nature so delicate.
It s always when you think that you have at last
mastered the problem of this life and evolved a sys
tem that promises smooth going the rest of the way
that the skies tumble down upon you.
Thus it was with the Maestro. Just when he had
brought the school system of his pueblo to the point
where, he fondly dreamed, he could sit back and watch
it run along the nickel-plated tracks that he had so
carefully laid, there came the washout and the promise
The blow was a hard one, and for a while, very
much in contradiction to his custom, the Maestro
buried himself in thought of past achievements and
his heart softened toward himself in a great burst of
BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION 129
He thought of the fight, the long, bitter, patient
fight, he had had to find a Maestra and get his girls
school started. The hunt for a Maestra, what an
Iliad, and what an Odyssey ! First the careful can
vas of the pueblo, the horror of the chosen at the
thought of degrading themselves to the point of
teaching in a public school, the rebuffs of parents,
the tearful indignation of mothers ; then, the pueblo
proving impossible, the long rides into the surround
ing country, to far haciendas, in search of the longed-
for Being! Once he had crossed the swollen Hog,
and had been nearly drowned with his horse, to find
the fair one of whom he had heard glowing reports
she was very well educated, si Senor, had been to col-
legio in Manila for four years, yes, four years ; and
she could play the piano, ah, divinely, and she could
sew and weave jusi, just like the mother of God to
find this marvel deaf, deaf as a post !
And then, suddenly, he had met Her !
His being still thrilled at the memory. He had met
her, Constancia de la Rama, at a baile. She was danc
ing the escupiton, and right away he saw that she was
not as the others. The grace of her balancing waist,
of the airy arm-gestures was not rounded and timid
as that of her sisters her grace was angular. Her
black eyes did not fix a hypothetical point between
her shilena-shod little feet; they looked boldly at
those who addressed her. She did not squirm and
giggle at compliments, but accepted them freely and
boisterously. And the Maestro had the irritat
ing sense of having met her somewhere, sometime,
He danced with her. In honour of the Ameri
cano, rigidon, escupiton, dreamy waltz had been abol
ished in favour of a Sousa march played in rag-time.
They had danced the two-step together, and with stu
por he had found himself led. It was she who deter
mined the length of the glide, the way they should
turn, how the cape of chairs should be doubled. And
so they had slid along the whole floor in three steps,
had whirled like tops, and his final desperate attempt
to take command had resulted in a woeful lurch and
And as she stalked in her long, loose stride toward
the dressing-room to readjust her saya, somewhat in
distress from the Maestro s last effort, it had sud
denly flashed upon him where he had seen her before.
He had seen her, not in the Philippines, but in the
United States, not as an individual, but as a type.
He had seen her type in the co-educational colleges
of his own country. She was a co-ed, that s what
she was !
When she came out again, he asked her to be his
BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION 131
" Forty pesos a month," she said, dreamily. " And
you would teach me American? "
" You would have to study English and teach it
at the school."
" I will begin Monday," she said.
She had not even asked the consent of her parents.
At the time, how pleased he had been at this refresh
ing independence, and yet, in the light of later events,
how ominous it really was !
It was a time of joy. She had attacked her new
task with alert energy. From the first the Girl s
School had become the envy of the maestros of the
whole province. He could see her yet, leading her
stolid little brownies in song.
" Chi-rrrries rrri-pa ! Chi-rrries rrri-pa ! Woo
weel buy my chi-rrries rrri-pa ! " she tremoloed, in
piercing falsetto, beating up a small typhoon with
her baton of sugar-cane ; " chee-rrries rrri-pa go
on ! sing ! all too-gidderrr ! louderr ! sing, I say you !
chee-rrries rrri-pa, chee-rrries rri-pa ! "
And then, charging a little girl, her right arm and
index finger stiffened out like a lance:
" Hao menny ligs has ddee cao? " she screeched.
" Dee cao has too-a, too-a legs," stammered the
little brown maiden, annihilated by the sudden attack.
" Ah, sus ! Hao menny ligs ? " she screeched
higher, presenting her lance farther down the line.
" Ddee cao hes trrree legs ! "
" Hao menny ligs ? Hao menny ligs ? Dee cao hes
trree ligs ? Count ! Count ! Wan, too-a, trrrree, four !
Dee cao hes four ligs. Wow! Sus-Maria- Joseph ! "
From the first she had taken an ardent liking for
all American institutions. The liberty of women espe
cially, as she gleaned it from her readings and from
sundry discreet questions put to the Maestro, en
" Senor Maestro, in America, the young ladies,
they go out in the street, all alone? "
" Well, yes ; it is considered all right for them to
do so, in the West, at least."
"And they go out all alone?" she repeated, pen
sively, in the awed tone that we are taught to use
in a cathedral or pantheon.
And, a few days later:
" Senor Maestro, in America, the young girls,
they go out with young men, all alone? "
" Well, yes ; that is yes ; it s considered all right
for young people to walk together."
" And they go out, in the evening, when the moon
is shining, and walk together? "
" Well, yes, some do. You see, it s very different
in America from the Philippines. You see, in America,
the young men and women are more like brothers and
" Oh, they do not marry, then ? "
So that the Maestro s feelings, while watching this
Americanisation, were somewhat mixed; especially so
when the town council came to him in horror-stricken
deputation and advised him of the fact that his Maes-
tra was scandalising the pueblo by walking along the
river banks with a young man in the evenings. The
Maestra was no dreamy theorist. After that the
Maestro was more careful in his inoculation of Amer
" No, sir," said the Maestro, to himself, rising from
his chair and stretching, his self-examination finished ;
" no, sir ; since that night the shocked council called
on me I ve been good. I ve been almighty careful not
to put new ideas into her blooming young head. I ve
been the acme of prudence. I ve v
And suddenly he tumbled back into his chair, and
his heart sank slowly down into his heels. For, he
remembered, only a few days ago, in the Teachers
class, the subject of leap-year had come up, and his
exposition had been not exclusively astronomical.
No, he must admit it, with that deplorable desire to
astonish that possesses most of us, he had well, his
account of certain custom had been somewhat
coloured, and more emphatic than the custom
"Thunder!" ejaculated the Maestro, a new cold
wave showering him. He rushed to the calendar
tacked to the wall and turned the pages swiftly.
He stood before the date, petrified.
It was the twenty-ninth of February.
The Maestro seized a cap upon the table, plumped
it upon his head, and hop-skipped- jumped down the
stairs. " Action, action," his whole being cried. He
glanced into the girls schoolhouse as he passed.
The Second Maestra was sitting apathetically in a
chair, her baby at her breast, and the little girls,
tight up against each other on their high benches,
their hands folded upon their bright patadyons,
looked like some little strawberry-hued birds that he
had seen once in the window of an animal store, a
thousand on one perch. The silence, the inaction of
the place hurt him to the core, and the remark that
suddenly ripped the somnolent atmosphere was so
electric that the Maestra sprang to her feet.
" Do you see dde hhett? " she said, lamely, pointing
to a pear tree on the chart.
But she might have saved herself the trouble. The
head from which had come the remark had disap
peared from the door. The Maestro was already fifty
yards away, eating up the distance with long, nervous
strides. He enfiladed a lane, between fields of high
BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION 135
sugar cane, and finally came to the little plaza where
throned the Ledesma nipa-mansion. The doors, the
shutters were closed tight, as if to shut out the pes
tilence, and there was no sound, no movement, no sign
of life. The Maestro looked about him carefully,
then began to walk along the edge of the open space,
peering along the vistas between the rows of cane.
Soon he came upon the Maestra.
The first glance told him the magnitude of the
task ahead; for the little recess in the canes had all
the signs of cool and determined occupation. A red 1 -
and-white patate was spread upon the ground. On
one of the corners were carefully heaped a few of the
Senorita s worldly goods a camphor-wood chest, the
size of a doll s trunk; a pina camisa, tied up in a
bandana handkerchief; and another Handkerchief
bulging and running out with a few handfuls of
palay. Off the mat, on a little fire of twigs, the
breakfast rice was bubbling in a big black pot.
The Maestra was seated in the centre of the mat,
her limbs drawn up beneath her bright patadyon in
a certain kittenish grace. She was in morning neglige
and her loose hair fell down over her shoulders in a
glistening black cascade. As the Maestro approached
her from behind, he heard a rustling of paper, and,
looking down over her head, he saw that she was read
ing. The Maestro blushed, not at his indiscretion,
but at sight of big black lines announcing the
name of the publication. The Maestra was reading
the Hearth Companion. With remorse, the Maes
tro remembered how once, in the heat of his proselyt-
ism, he had recommended to all his Filipino teach
ers to subscribe to American periodicals. It was a
bitter backward path that his mind was treading as
he went further into this affair, tracing back to his
well-meant efforts so many unexpected results.
" Good-morning, Miss de la Rama," he said,
But she read on for several lines, then, seemingly
having come to a satisfactory ending of an exciting
crisis, she laid the paper down carefully and, looking
up with a sweet smile, " Gooda morrneen, Senor
Pablo," she answered.
And in her tone, her smile, there was no fear of
disapproval, but rather that bubbling satisfaction
which hardly can wait to be congratulated.
" Why are you not at school? " asked the Maestro,
" Ah, de school, de school, yes, de school was very
nice," she sighed, with the tenderness one uses to
speak of the sweet, gone past. But her interest,
plainly, was elsewhere.
" To-day is leapa-year day," she went on, her voice
now vibrant with decision ; " and I am going to get
BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION 137
married, Senor Maestro ; I am to get married like an
American girl; just like an American girl!" she
repeated, in glowing exultation.
" Oh ! " said the Maestro, with lying fervour,
" somebody has asked your hand, Senorita ? Let me
congratulate you. And who is the lucky fellow ? "
1 "Asked my hand?" cried the Maestra, wonder-
ingly. " No. I said like an American girl. Nobody
has asked me the hand. I will marry like an American
girl. This is leapa-year day. Just like an American
" But, gadzooks ! " exclaimed the Maestro, at once
frightened and horrified by this strange insistence,
" American girls don t marry like that. Leap-year,
that s just fiction, a legend, a joke. I told you about
leap-year the other day; it s just a little joke yes,
that s it, a little joke!"
But the Maestra was proof against American
" American girls, they all, all marry on leapa-
year," she said, severely. " You say so the other
day, and all the American books say so. Here is a
paper," she said, patting the Hearth Companion.
" There are in it ten stories about American girls,
and they all marry on leapa-year day; all, todas
ask a gentleman to marry on leapa-year day. It is
not a joke."
" But," hinted the Maestro, " maybe Seiior Ledesma
(does not want to marry."
" That does not matter at all," said the Maestra,
crisply. " If we will be Americans, we must adopt the
American costumbres. There is a story in this paper
it does not matter at all; Sefior Ledesma is very
bashful, but this is leapa-year day."
Just then the rice rose in a foaming surge and
began to trickle down the black rotundity of the pot.
The Maestra sprang up with agile grace, and with
a few dexterous sweeps of her little feet scattered the
fire of twigs. " Will you have some breakfast ? " she
asked the Maestro, sweetly.
But during this movement the Maestro s brain had
been working swiftly, and he had decided upon a
change of base.
" Your assistant, Felicia, is becoming a very able
teacher," he remarked, nonchalantly.
" Yes, she is a very good teacher," agreed the
Maestra; but there was no emphasis on her adjective.
" This morning," went on the Maestro, " she was
teaching the children. She said, Do you see the
hat ? and she pointed to the pear tree."
" Sus-Maria-Joseph ! " exclaimed the Maestra ;
" she said that? But it is barbarous! The children,
they will unlearn all that I learned them ! It is what
you call? it is impossible!"
BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION 139
" Yes," went on the Maestro, seeing that he was
on the right track, and using his imagination a bit ;
" and she told them, I has two hats. "
" < I has? I has? she said I has ? Que barbar-
idad ! Senor Pablo, I will "
And, dropping her bowl of rice, she started run
ning toward the school, while behind her back the
Maestro executed a little jig. His undignified joy,
however, lasted but a few seconds. The Maestra came
to an abrupt stop, looked down at her garments, and
came back slowly.
" I cannot go to school in these clothes," she said,
" No," admitted the Maestro ; " but can you not
put on your others ? "
The Maestra looked embarrassed.
" Senor Maestro," she confided, " you know my
mother ; she is very aged, you know, and she does not
know American like me, and she dislikes very much
American customs " She hesitated.
"Well?" said the Maestro, not understanding.
" She hates very much American customs, and
so she hates the leapa-year custom; and this
morning, this morning she told me not to come
back to her house, and all my clothes are in the
There was a long silence. " Gosh all hemlock,"
said the Maestro, at length, and then there was an
The Maestra broke it. " Senor Maestro," she said,
softly, " do you think, maybe, perhaps, you could
go and ask my mother for the clothes ? "
" Good golly ! " remarked the Maestro. " Good
golly ! " he repeated, wiping his brow with his hand
kerchief. But he started off.
He returned a half hour later, wilted and perspir
ing. The old Senora de la Rama had some tenacious
Chinese blood in her veins, and the struggle had been
an unpleasant one. But the Maestro had won. Across
his right arm, held gingerly away from him, there
shimmered jusis and pinas. He passed the objects to
the Maestra with averted eyes and left her in her
Some ten minutes later, as the Maestro was leading
his boys in their daily calisthenics, a sudden weird
note came floating mournfully through the water
logged atmosphere. The Maestro stood still, with at
tentive ear, and the cry cut itself into unmistakable
syllables : " Chee-rrries rrri-pa ; chee-rrries rrri-pa ! "
It came from the girls schoolhouse.
" One-two ; one-two ! " said the Maestro, and the
next exercise was so vigorous that before it was fin
ished the urchins were breathless and drooping.
BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION 141
Crushed into a limp, discouraged mass in the depths
of his cane chair, the Maestro grasped his head with
both hands and thought. Thought with the Maestro
was the sign of deep distress. Usually, he just acted.
In truth, the situation was not a rosy one. The
Maestra was still unshaken in her marital determina
tion; and in symbol of that state of mind she was
having built a little palm hut on the spot where she
had camped in Ledesma s cane fields. Three taos,
impressed by her from her father s dependents, were
working night and day ; the four corner posts, the
bamboo-strip floor, the nipa roof, were already up,
and only the thatch walls remained to be put on.
From behind the closed shutters of his father s man
sion, Ledesma saw the fort arise above his sugar-
canes, and he cowered in dark corners, studying a
Civil Service pamphlet with vague projects of es
caping to Manila to study typewriting and enter a
government office. Also, he had sent an urgent note
to his father, off in one of their other haciendas,
bidding him to come back quick to protect him. The
absence of Ledesma from the boys school was bad
enough, but much worse was the realisation that the
truce arranged with the Maestra was fast becoming
impossible. When the Maestro had bearded Senorita
Constancia s mother and had returned triumphant
with the objects that were to enable the young lady
to make decent appearance at school, he had forgot
ten that, in the Philippines, clothes are of the kind
that must be washed often ; so that, when two days
later he had to repeat the performance, and saw
before him a future filled with the same monotonous
prospect, his ardour had undergone several degrees
cooling. This very morning the struggle to obtain a
few shreds of presentable clothing from the irate
mother had been so violent, and the subsequent walk
across the plaza with the hard-won bundle, beneath
the appreciative eyes of the whole town, had been so
self-conscious that the Maestro had sworn that it was
the end of that. A better solution, a final solution,
must be quickly found.
Out of his bitter reflections the Maestro was sud
denly startled by a drumming of hoofs and a shout
outside. He went to the window, and a white man in
khaki, cork-helmeted, was pulling up his horse before
" Huston ! " shouted the Maestro, in delighted
tones. He hop-skipped across the room, dashed down
the stairs, and whacked the newcomer, just dismount
ing, a tremendous slap on the back. " You old son-
of-a-gun," he drawled, tenderly, seizing his hand and
moving it up and down like a pump-handle.
The man s eyes gleamed, and a flush of pleasure
BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION 143
came to his tanned cheeks. " Here, here, old man,"
he said, deprecatingly, " you don t seem alive to the
er dignity of my profession."
"Sky-pilot, eh?" shouted the Maestro. "Gospel-
sharp; stuck up about it, eh? Darn-if-I-care ; you re
still a good fellow. Golly, but I m glad to see you,"
he cried, nearly knocking him down with a dig in the
short ribs. " Gee, but I m glad to see you " and
he shook him till his teeth rattled. " How long re you
going to stay? "
" Three days," answered Huston ; " want to start
a mission here."
Tolio, the Maestro s muchacho, was unsaddling the
pony. The two friends climbed the steps into the
house. Unbuckling his belt, the missionary threw his
long Colt s upon the table and dropped into a chair,
and then they began to talk. It was a strange per
formance. The words swept out of their mouths in
an uninterrupted, turgid, furious stream; they
shouted, stammered, giggled; they laughed like
artillery thunder, gesticulated like windmills, a hectic
flush upon their cheeks, their brains awhirl, mad with
the madness that seizes the man of lone stations when
at last he can communicate his thoughts, pour out
what has been dammed in so long, free himself of the
stagnant burden of never-expressed feeling, emotion,
But after a half -hour of this, the Maestro began
to subside. Huston still talked, told of the cholera in
Manapla, the mud between Bago and Jinagaran, the
palay famine in Oriental Negros, the anti-fraile mob
in Silay, the embezzlement of the Provincial Treas
urer. But the Maestro was silent, his eyes upon his
" What the deuce are you thinking about ? " at last
exclaimed the missionary, suddenly very much aware
of his loquacity.
" By Jove, I ve got it," said the Maestro, rising
to his feet like an automaton, his eyes fixed as if he
saw written in space the solution of some sore world-
problem. He took three great strides across the room,
wheeled, and stopped before the missionary. " Yes,
sir, I ve got it," he repeated, enthusiasm beginning to
thrill in his voice.
" For goodness sake," asked the missionary, " got
" I ve got well, something for you to do," an
swered the Maestro, enigmatically ; " yes, sir, I ve a
job for you, Huston."
He sat down at the table and scribbled two notes.
" Tolio," he called. The boy appeared at the door.
" Take this," ordered the Maestro, giving the boy
the first note, " to Maestro Ledesma. Tell him to
come right away. Tell him to come around by the
river so that the Maestra cannot see him."
BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION 145
" Si, Senor," said the faithful servant.
" And after Maestro Ledesma has entered the
house here, not before, mind you, Tolio, you go to
Senorita Constancia and give her this note," went on
the Maestro, giving the boy the second slip of paper.
" Si, Senor," said the boy, carefully taking one
note in his left hand and the other in the right.
The two friends were again left alone, but the spell
had been broken and they did not renew their outpour
ings. The Maestro was the prey of a fixed idea. He
paced back and forth like a lion in his cage, full of
the fever of resolve. At intervals he punched his left
palm with his right fist, then varied the performance
by punching his right palm with his left fist ; inco
herent exclamations growled in his throat : " He s
got to, that s all; things are going to smash; I ll
make him ; it s the only way ! "
Huston looked on curiously. He had been scrub on
the football team when the Maestro had been captain
and star; and the relation had left indelible marks
upon him in an unreasoning, instinctive respect, a
subtle sense of inferiority which no achievement in
after-life would ever enable him to overcome. Now,
however, this sense of fealty was being rudely put to
proof. A horrible suspicion was setting his heart
The shrinking appearance of Ledesma at the door
broke the painful silence. He was a slim, limp young
man, with pomaded hair, clad in a white suit gener
ously sprinkled with cologne water, and, in spite of
the cigarette held delicately between his fingers, was
evidently ill at ease.
And little chance he had to recover from his emo
tion. " Ah, Ledesma," said the Maestro, frigidly.
" I want to talk to you, my boy, and seriously, too.
Come into my room."
And, placing a heavy hand upon the young fel
low s shoulder, he steered him into an interior cham
ber, closing the door behind them.
To Huston, left alone, there came sounds of a
furious altercation that is, furious from one party ;
for from one weak voice there seemed to come only
mild expostulation, faint denials, pathetic pleas, neg
atived by the cold, incisive tones of the Maestro.
Little by little, however, the begging voice rose, grew
rebellious, squealed, trembled with an indignation
that seemed almost righteous. The Maestro began to
thunder. " You ve got to ; you ve got to," he shouted.
" I ll make you do it ! " " No, no, I won t," answered
the other voice, settling down to hogdess, stubborn
denial; " I won t, I won t ! "
The door opened and the Maestro dashed out. He
gave a wild look around the room, and his eyes lit
upon the missionary s revolver upon the table. He
BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION 147
pounced upon it, snapped it open, and the cartridges
fell out. After a rapid examination, to make sure that
the cylinder was empty, the Maestro snapped the
weapon shut again and bounded back into the interior
room, closing the door after him. Then his voice be
came icy and menacing. There was a sharp click;
the protesting voice weakened into a faint wail, and
there was silence.
" Huston," shouted the Maestro, " let me know
when Senorita Constancia comes in."
But at the sound of the sweet name there was a
scuffle inside. The door burst open, and Ledesma dived
head first across the threshold; but a long muscular
arm went out after him, grabbed him by the trousers,
and jerked him back inside.
Again the Maestro s voice rose in a few crisp sen
tences, and there was no answer to them, only a faint
snivelling, which diminished gradually. The door
reopened slowly, and the Maestro and Ledesma came
in together, arm in arm that is, the Maestro s arm
was twined flexibly but inexorably about Ledesma s
limp member. Ferocious triumph beamed upon the
face of the gentle pedagogue; Ledesma was wilted,
tear-stained, and despairing. At the same moment,
radiant, smiling, alert as a kitten, Senorita Constan
cia appeared at the outer door. She wore a long-train
blue-silk skirt, a cream-coloured camisa through
whose shimmering, puffing sleeves her arms glowed
like frosted gold; over her bare shoulders a jusi
panuelo was lightly laid, the two ends meeting upon
her breast in a golden brooch. She swept gracefully
through the room, her bracelets clinking on her wrists,
toward Huston, whom she had met before, shook
hands with him Anglo-Saxon style, bowed to the
Maestro, calmly ignored Ledesma, and whirred down
into the depths of a cane chair.
" Huston," said the Maestro, gravely, " I want you
to marry these two people."
But the missionary, so far petrified with wonder,
suddenly rebelled. " Look here, Paul," he burst out,
" what kind of a thing are you getting me into? To
me it looks well, at least irregular, very irregular.
To tell the truth, old fellow, your actions seem to me
er well, singular, very singular. I you "
" You just leave this thing to me," interrupted the
Maestro, with an authoritative nod toward the poor
churchman, whose protesting attitude was fast oozing
away in the subtle sense of inferiority still sticking
to him from the days when the Maestro was gridiron
captain and star and he a humble " scrub " ; " you
just leave that to me. Go ahead with the ceremony ;
that s all you have to do ! "
But, with the courage of the meek, Huston fought
on. " I at least must know," he said, firmly,
BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION 149
" whether these two people consent to this er
union." He turned to the Maestra. " Do you want
to marry this young man ? " he asked, pointing to the
" Oh, yes," answered the Maestra, suavely, " he
must marry me."
" And you," went on Huston, turning to Ledesma,
" do you wish to take this maid to wife? "
Ledesma opened his mouth like a carp, then shut
it again. He looked fearfully toward the Maestro.
The Maestro glared significantly. Ledesma s hands
began to wring each other; beads of perspiration
appeared about his lips. " I I " he stam
" Look a-here," thundered the Maestro, impa
tiently ; " what the deuce is the need of all this fuss ?
He s got to marry her, that s all. He s got to marry
her, do you understand ? " he repeated, a vision of his
ruined schools aflame in his mind ; " it s the kind of
marriage that s got to be, catch on? "
It is the misfortune of us humans that our speech
is, after all, but a poor instrument for the expression
of our thoughts. The same words, the same phrases,
are capable of diverse interpretation. For instance,
to the Maestro, the kind of marriage that has to be
was merely the marriage that would settle the crisis
of his schools. For the missionary there was only
one species of marriage that has to be not at all
that in the Maestro s mind.
" Oh," said the missionary ; " oh, that s the way it
is, is it? " He turned to Ledesma and, pointing to
him a long finger trembling with righteous indigna
tion, " Stand up and be married, young man," he
As Ledesma was already on his feet, the command
was hardly necessary; but it dashed out of that
youth s heart the last spark of hope that had flamed
up at the missionary s intervention. Taking Senorita
Constancia s arm, the Maestro led her to the groom.
" Take her hand," said the missionary, sternly.
Tremblingly the groom obeyed, and was bound for
better or for worse.
It cannot be said that the ceremony was followed
by the usual joyous whirr of congratulations. The
bride calmly turned her back upon the groom and
engaged Huston in a lively conversation. The Maes
tro, suddenly turned craven, went out into the kitchen
on the pretext of seeking refreshments, and mean
while Ledesma quietly but hurriedly slunk out of the
house. The Maestra, from the window, saw him run
ning along the street, but she only laughed. She alone
was at ease. The Maestro, returning with a bottle of
Spanish wine and a plate of bananas, seemed to have
lost all his assurance ; the missionary s virtuous indig-
BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION 151
nation was fast leaving him, in spite of his efforts,
and doubt again was disturbing his spirit. There was
something ominous in the air.
Nor was this presentiment to prove a false one.
Perhaps half an hour later, as the Maestra was say
ing good-by, Isidro pattered in with a note to the
Maestro. It was from Ledesma.
SENOR MAESTRO, TYRANT AND DARKEST DESPOT:
When you will receive this note I will be gone and out of
the reach of your most unjust, tyrannic and unholy arm.
I am embarking at the present time upon a banca, I will
take a lorcha at the dismouthing of the Hog River to Ho
llo and from that charming city I will go to Manila to
study typewriting and thus enable me to enter the Ad
ministration of the Government of this my sore-tried and
much in the past tyrannized and devastated country
which will rise like the phenix bird from its cinders,
blooming afresh from the long-sleeping volcano when it
awakes and lights up the world with the blessings of
Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity which to my ignorant
countrymen I will teach like the swallow which none die
without God on High knowing it feed his little young
one that do not know how to flie above the dark ignorance
at the all-around of them. It gives me great pleasure,
Oh, sir, to proclamate to you that the unholy union in
which you like the blackest czar of despotic Russia
forced upon my palpitating heart is null. My father
who has returned from his hacienda tells me that accord
ing to the law I cannot marry without his permission
until I am twenty-five. I am only twenty and my father
Oh, sir, how sweetly paternal is a father will not per-
son, so my so-called marriage is a void,
mit me to marry Sefiorita Constancia de la Rama y Lac-
Hoping sir, that Remorse will soon cause your heart
to weep I am
No longer your pupil and assistant-maestro
MAURO LEDESMA Y GOLES.
" Thunder ! " exclaimed the Maestro, suddenly
again belligerent. " Let s get after him ! "
But the Maestra had picked up the letter and was
" Oh," she said, when she had finished ; " oh, that is
very nice. Now I can what you call ? ah, divorce ;
I can divorce just like an American girl! "
And thus it is that the Girls School of B alangi-
lang is still the envy of the maestros for leagues
A JEST OF THE GODS
IT was rather a disreputable place, and really we
were there by chance, a dance upon the British war
ship anchored near Cavite and the breakdown of the
returning launch leaving us upon the stone quay of
the Binondo estero at a shameful hour. The time
spent bobbing upon the waters while with fervent
ejaculations the engineer experimented with the friv
olous gasoline engine had been ecstatically cool. Now
the city exhaled upon us her feverish breath, in a
short time the sun would pour down its blistering
rays, and we could not bear thought of room and bed.
So we sat around the big narra table at Timke s,
clinking with straws the ice in our glasses.
There was a scuffle in an obscure corner of the
room ; then, carried by muchachos, there passed be-
neath the light a limp, dangling corpse. They were
not over-careful, the muchachos. Two were at the
legs, two at the arms, so that the head hung down,
lamentable, with mouth open. They crossed the room
and vanished through a door into the rear apartment ;
and our last glimpse was of the opalescent reflection
of a lamp upon a cranium astonishingly bald.
" Old man Dickson," somebody said, significantly ;
" paralysed, as usual."
" That man," said Courtland, with a vague gesture
toward the door just slammed ; " that man is the vic
tim of a most atrocious and absurd tragedy."
And he told it to us thus :
I first knew him through his newspaper work.
Every morning he shuffled gently into my office and
asked if there was anything new. He did this with a
want of assurance strange in a reporter, and yet not
at all with humility ; but rather in a dreamy, detached
manner, as if he really did not care if there was any
thing new, and would probably not remember it if
there were ; as if the thing of importance, after all,
were the internal problem upon which he was ponder
ing, pondering with a discreet intensity that left his
arms to hang in uncouth limpness, his feet to drag,
his head to sink sideways toward his right shoulder,
his whole body to appear as if abandoned, utterly
abandoned, of the spiritual being to hang, loose,
limp, ungoverned, like a scarcrow which lives, ges
ticulates, postures only with the caprices of the wind.
His whole body, I said ; I should except the eyes. They
were magnificent eyes, large, limpid, serenely blue.
A JEST OF THE GODS 155
They were not abandoned; they were fixed. But it
was not at anything outside. It was at something
within. As you sought them you became aware of
that. You were not seen you were not of importance.
The sun, the sky, men, women, were not seen they
were not of importance. These eyes were looking in
side. As you examined them, you realised that it was
the back of them that was turned toward you, the
reflective back wall of them, and that their working,
searching, penetrating part was turned inward, por
ing there in the shifting gloom at I don t know what
Don t think that I noted all this at first. It came
slowly, by degrees. No, the first thing that im
pressed me was his baldness, his extraordinary
baldness. It seems nothing to tell you that on
his head there was not a suspicion of hair ; that s
common enough, doesn t express it at all. Like
wise to explain that there were no brows, that the
lashes were gone, that, of course, his whole face
was hairless this is prattle, mere childish, puerile
prattle. Usual expressions, the ordinarily adequate
figures comparisons with knees, with billiard balls
sink into impotence, are sacrilege before the Awful-
ness of the thing. Nothing usual can express it. It
was something appalling. It was a curse, a visitation.
It was as if God s lightning had struck his pate,
blasted it clean No, that does not express it. There
was something solid, established, immutable about the
thing that cannot be explained by visions of acci
dents, of cataclysms, however potent. It savoured
rather of some law of Nature, of the patient, irre
vocable work of obscure Forces through the ages
say like the glacier-polishing of granite domes such
as I ve seen in the California Sierra, something
geologic and eternal. Yes, that was it : that man s pate
must have been polished and repolished with malevo
lent earnestness for years, for ages, through incon
ceivable aeons. His father, his grandfather, his
ancestors after and before the deluge, from the first
day of creation, nay, back into the reign of chaos,
must have been bald, abominably bald, to explain that
mournful head there before me. As a matter of fact,
I should have been surprised at something else; for,
at the sight of a volume lying open upon my desk,
he had launched upon a dissertation on Keats, some
thing absolutely precious in quaint insight, in sub
tlety of appreciation. But I was fascinated with the
head; that baldness held me in its toils, froze my
eyes, tugged my heart, drugged my brains. And it
was not till he had gone that I realised I had been
listening to exquisite discourse.
Do not be too much surprised. Such a thing is to
be accepted, almost expected, from a Manila news-
A JEST OF THE GODS 157
paper man. The Manila newspaper man is a singular
genus. Always he has talent ; sometimes more than
that. But of course there s always something the
matter. This something is what makes him so
interesting. And it leads, also, to a certain conven
tionality in intercourse with him. For instance, to a
Manila newspaper man you never mention the Past.
There is no past. He is supposed to have sprung like
Venus from the sea, full-panoplied with his educa
tion, his talent, his gentle scepticism right on the
Escolta. That s the rule.
I knew the rule; so if I broke it, it shows merely
that my awakened curiosity was too much for my
savoir faire. I wanted to know, that s all. I searched
for and found his haunt.
Every evening, after his work, he crossed over to
the Metropole. He had a queer, apologetic way of
progressing, with his right side ahead of his left,
as if ceaselessly jostled by an imaginary crowd. Gen
tly, with that sideways motion, he shuffled into the
big room and made for a table in the corner of the
veranda. He was always very cleanly dressed in
white, unstarched, which I suspected was the result
of his own industry in his little back room; but his
shoes were down by the heels, which added greatly
to the general humility of his appearance. Carefully
he placed his chair at a certain distance, known of
him only, from the table ; then he sat down slowly,
folded his arms upon the table, his body inclined a
little forward. Without a movement of the folded
arms he raised one finger of the right hand, in a
gesture almost heraldic in its sobriety, and the boy,
attentive by his side, immediately brought him a
small glass of cloudy green liquid. This he sipped
slowly. A gray, opalescent cloud came over his eyes ;
his head fell slightly toward his right shoulder in an
attitude of careful consideration. When he had fin
ished, he remained thus a long time, immovable, petri
fied in his gentle brooding; then up would go his
finger in that strange gesture, almost imperceptible,
but infinitely commanding, as if it came not from him
self, but as a manifestation of some superior power
and the boy, attentive, immediately brought
another glass of the cloudy-green stuff, which he
sipped to the dregs, motionless and fatal like some
hierarchic figure. Two hours, three hours, he kept
this up, then suddenly he moved. Both his arms went
up and around in a wide, noble gesture ; his hands
long, fine-veined hands settled upon his head, his
absurd bald head, as if in protection, in vague pro
test at possible levity; he leaned forward and was
asleep. He slept there, upon the table, his hands upon
his head, his cheek upon his arms ; his face, turned to
the light, was relaxed in infinite lassitude, as a child s
A JEST OF THE GODS 159
after crying; his mouth, slightly open, let pass his
breathing, faint, like a babe s and once in a while
he sighed, a sigh not deep, not peevish, not rebellious,
but resigned, rather, patient and unhappy. There
was something incredibly babyish about the whole
thing the sleep, the sigh, the posture, even that
extraordinary bald head gleaming between the fingers,
pudgy with shadow something that would have
drawn the heart of woman in tenderness, tugged at it
with the pang-desire to console, to cherish, to kiss.
Yes, a woman would have kissed that absurd bald
head, would have smothered that gentle sigh. A
woman would have, I tell you ! And he didn t know,
didn t know, the fool baby-man!
After a time I began to sit at his table. He ac
cepted me without emotion. Life to him, evidently,
was full of such facts as my presence there, facts to
which one must adapt one s self with the least possi
ble fuss. He seemed, in fact, in perpetual process of
readjustment. He d sit there quietly, sipping his
green poison, till diabolically I d mention some name
of literary fame. It was like pressing a button the
effect was so instantaneously sure. First would come
a few detached sentences, like a modulation. Then
insensibly he had slid into the main theme, and it was
what shall I call it? exquisite, there s no other
word for it. There was such depth to the thing, such
subtlety of dissection, such a wealth of sudden, baring
illuminations and all that cloaked, softened in a
haze of gentle scepticism that left nothing of dog
matic asperities. I compared it with the snorting,
imperial utterances of my German Professor at col
lege. It was French, that s what it was, in its breadth,
its charity, its continual attenuation and inter-cor
rection, its horror of the dictatorial, the pedantic.
But don t think that he animated himself in this. No,
he kept his immovable I came near saying " silent,"
and really, even while he spoke, he gave an impression
of silence his immovable, detached calm. All this,
it came as from another man. It was another man,
the past man. He was not creating now; he was
merely re-reading the creations of the past man,
objectively, too, with a certain mild astonishment at
" You must have studied deeply," I said, one night,
as I sat, still dazzled, long after he had spoken his
He looked at me hazily. " I have my Harvard Ph.
D.," he said, absent-mindedly. "I lectured after
" Then, for God s sake," I blurted out, tortured
by the vision of that life calmly ruining itself ; " for
God s sake, what are you doing here? "
His eyes turned absolutely inside out. From their
A JEST OF THE GODS 161
interior contemplation they flashed outward. He was
looking at me; for the first time I had that feeling
completely that he was looking at me, a hard, pro
found, startled stare.
Then, before I could make a movement, a gesture
of protest, he had risen to his feet. " Good-night,"
he said, brusquely, and he had shuffled out of the
For three days he did not appear. I had hurt him,
insulted him. I waited for him, with a desire for
reparation. Yet when he finally came I saw that I
was mistaken. There was no resentment, absolutely
none, in his manner as he shuffled up to the table and
sat down. But before even the usual green poison
had been set before him he had drawn from his breast
pocket a square piece of cardboard and had thrown
it to me.
I looked at it stupidly, at first without comprehen
sion. Then the whole thing flashed upon me in an
understanding so sudden, so complete, so profound,
that it simply dazed me, left me there inert between
two extraordinary and conflicting desires to laugh
and weep laugh, extravagantly, madly; weep,
with the same abandon, thoroughly, humidly, senti
It was an answer to my question. And it was a
picture. A picture of himself I recognised the fine,
white forehead, the sensitive mouth, the wide, pure
eyes. But on the cranium there was hair, hair, do
you hear? Not a little of it, not a mere trifle, but
hair, an abundance of it, a magnificent leonine mane,
a wealth of it, waving and rolling, curling over the
ears, setting off the whole person in distinction. There
was hair on his head ; there were brows over his eyes,
dark brows that must have contrasted finely with the
wide, blue orbs. There it was, the answer. He had
had hair; he was bald. This was the whole of his
ridiculous tragedy. He had had hair, do you under
stand? and now he had none.
There I had it, complete ; but he evidently did not
think so. Or rather he didn t bother about me at all.
A powerful impulse to unburden himself possessed
him now ; all the accumulated wonder and pain at
Fate s wanton outrage poured out of him, hurling
away like so much chaff the rigid dam of restraint
held against it so long. He talked now, at first in
broken phrases, then more freely as he went on, in a
smooth current, hopeless, fatalistic, but tinged with
a strange self-compassion. And yet there was the old
detachment. He seemed analysing someone else, tell
ing the pitiful adventure of some other man, as if he
could not believe it had occurred to himself, as if his
credulity did not suffice before the wonder and cruelty
of the thing. A mild astonishment pervaded him.
A JEST OF THE GODS 163
It had begun with a little gray spot on the crown,
a very little spot. That was several years ago. He
counted, and I was astonished : he must be very young
yet. He didn t pay much attention to it. He was
happy, then, he explained, and it took much to bother
him. He had just accepted a post in the English
department of a Western University. It was a lovely
place, by the sea. There were hills behind, all velvety
gray and gold. His house was covered with climbing
roses, absolutely covered, embowered in them like a
nest. His associations were pleasant; he loved his
work. His lectures were attracting some attention.
It was lovely. He was happy. And then there
He stopped and was silent quite a while; his eyes,
hazy with retrospection, took on tones of marvellous
softness. And when he began again I had the impres
sion that he had left out something.
Well, after a while that little patch of gray hair
began falling out, and finally it was a neat round ton
sure on the top of the head. Then, down by his right
ear, another spot began to gray. He watched it with
some concern. After a while, just as before, the gray
hair fell out, and he had two little bald places. It
began to make some difference, really. The first little
tonsure was at least symmetrical, could be called
interesting. But that incongruous spot above his
right ear no words could soften that. It was at
least strange, singular.
People thought it so ; at least he imagined that they
did. Sometimes a co-ed in his class would break out in
a sudden giggle. That hurt his work. He studied
much over his lectures ; but as to the form, he was
wont to extemporise a great deal. And one can t ex
temporise while a co-ed giggles. Besides, he was in
the grasp of a perverse doom. A third gray spot had
appeared, above the neck. He knew that three bald
spots would be clear ridicule. He began to haunt bar
ber shops; oils, restorers, all sorts of extravagant
shampoos did no good. Soon three bald spots shone
white, like famine in the remaining luxuriance of his
There was no mistaking it now. At first, at the
Faculty Club, they had slapped him on the back and
joked. Now they were discreetly and ominously silent.
The very word hair, when dropped by some giddy
confrere, fell into something like a vacuum of sombre
consternation. In the lecture room he often lost
the thread of his thought, remained long pained
minutes in speechless befuddlement. It was becom
Then came the crowning disaster. In the blindness
of his desperation he was induced by a magazine
advertisement to try some new and wondrous hair-
A JEST OF THE GODS 165
remedy. The result was fatal. The stuff turned in
spots the colour of his hair from brown to rusty red.
In spots, mind you ; so that now he was piebald red,
brown, gray, and white. The morning that, before a
glass, he faced the hideous fact, he nearly cut his
throat. And he was never able to get to his lecture.
He tried three times ; three times he stalked firmly
along the walk, his hat pulled deep about his shame ;
he circled the Hall a dozen times. He could not enter,
simply could not.
Happily, it was near the summer vacation, and he
had no trouble obtaining leave for the rest of the
term. He fled the college town. He wandered through
the big city nearby, aimless, alone, tortured. A good
deal of his time was spent upon the water-front. It s
always windy there, and men pull their hats down
about their ears. Ships began to exercise on him a
strange fascination. He dreamed of islands, desert
islands, lonely, unpeopled islands. One day, hardly
aware of it, he walked the plank of a little brigantine
the Tropic Bird, some such name and begged
the captain to take him. The captain did, as a green
hand. They sailed off.
He was still full of gratitude toward that captain.
It seemed that he never could get used to seamen s
work. " I couldn t climb spars," he explained ; " I d
get dizzy. I tried and tried; I couldn t." The cap-
tain made a cabin-boy of him. Hence his eternal grat
itude. " He was a gentleman, a thorough gentleman,
with all his roughness. When he saw that I couldn t
climb spars, he made me a cabin boy. I swabbed the
floor, waited at meals, washed dishes, and helped the
cook. That captain, sir, was a gentleman ! "
Really, he was absolutely broken. The insidious
disease was continuing its damnable work. From
Honolulu they picked up a charter for the Philip
pines. When they arrived in Manila, he was abso
lutely bald, bald as I saw him now. " No hair, no
brows, no lashes ; bald, ludicrous, ignoble, unclean ! "
He raised one finger ; the boy ran to him ; he sipped
the green liquor.
But he did not stop there. He began it again, the
lamentable tale, with new details, with inexorable pre
cision. He was a long time on a description of his
departed hair. A wealth of adjectives, subtle and
splendid, came to his lips without effort. He found
new, caressing words, as a mother speaking of her
dead babe. And one got no impression of vanity from
it, either. It was something past now, extraneous,
so irrevocably detached from him that he could speak
of it without egotism. He dwelled again upon his
happiness the Western College, the silvery hills, the
rose-covered cottage. " And then there was "
Again he stopped, and again, when he resumed, I
A JEST OF THE GODS 167
had the impression of something vital left out. It was
this, I think, that kept me at it ; for every night, now,
I heard it, the odious story, with an augmentation
of details, a progressive firmness of construction.
He d begin with his gray spot and run the whole
gamut of his pilous degradation. I grew infinitely
weary of it, but there was the secret, the secret still
held from me. It was exasperation at this continuous
evasion, I think, coupled with invincible lassitude at
the old tale, that led me, one night, madly to exclaim :
" Yes, yes, Dickson ; but the girl, the girl ; tell me
about the girl now ! "
By his sudden start, by his affrighted stare, I
knew that I had hit it, absolutely hit it. Oh, no, I
don t take much credit for that. Cherchez la femme;
divested of the cynicism placed upon it by its makers,
this precept is fundamental in the game of human
There was a She yes, there was. A young girl
(he s far from old himself, remember, in spite of his
pate) ; an angel. He loved her; she loved him. She
had a precious gift of imagination. He had hoped,
under his critical guidance, to see it bloom into some
thing a talent, a genius, perhaps. But now
" Man, man ! " I almost screamed ; " you fool, you
imbecile; why don t you go back, go back to her?
What the deuce is it, this more or less vegetation upon
your head, when you have that, that of all things
precious, when you have Love, Love, man ! "
I was furious with him. I talked in the same vein,
very extravagantly, no doubt. I gesticulated; I
shouted. He listened quietly, a considering frown
over his browless eyes.
No, it could not be ; it could not be. I didn t under
stand, couldn t understand. He had left when it be
gan. I couldn t understand. He used to walk with
her in the evening. He was working hard those days ;
at night he d be tired. They d stroll gently up a can
yon (Co-ed Canyon, I think he called it). They d sit
in the grass. He d rest his head on her shoulder.
Then she d stroke that tired head, run her light fin
gers through his
" Man, man ! " he shouted ; " imagine that, now.
Imagine me there once more, and she, with that
familiar gesture, that sacred gesture, running her
Slowly he passed his hands over the atrocious
smoothness of his cranium in a long, shuddering
movement. " Imagine that," he said, once more, in a
He raised his finger. He sipped. I gave up. Really,
you know, the way he told it, it was rather convincing.
I left him to his self-abasement. He lived on his
harmless life: by day the uncongenial task; the
A JEST OF THE GODS 169
maudlin dissipation by night. And every evening he
told me his story, his lugubrious story, till at times
a whiff of his madness communicated itself to me,
entered my blood, and, taking up my own particular
wrongs, I descended with him into orgies of tremulous
Then occurred something which gave me a ray of
It was at a fire. Cholera had broken out in the city
and the health officials, with that brisk cruelty in
which revels man, from medieval inquisitor to common
policeman, when persuaded of the righteousness of his
cause, were cleaning out barrios. This particular bar
rio was a miserable assemblage of nipa huts in the
Paco district. It was burning well when I arrived,
in one large, clear flame that rose with a single, pow
erful twist toward a sky purple with sunset. It was
quite a fine spectacle. Society had deserted the Lu-
neta drive for the more flaring show ; out on the rosy
edge of the conflagration was an intricacy of vic
torias and calesins ; a stamping of pony hoofs. Jusis
shimmered; white suits gleamed; beneath the crack
ling of tortured nipa rose a low hum of polite con
versation, musical laughter, melodious Ohs and Ahs
at particularly brilliant pyrotechnics. All Society
was there, reclining upon cushioned seats with a fine
feeling of security before this proof of official energy.
But in the shadow, on the other side, I could vaguely
descry other spectators, unkempt men and women,
standing up, stiff and motionless, with little bundles
in their hands, on their heads, stupid before this
magnificent destruction of their homes. Probably it
had never occurred to them that these huts, these
hearths, held such possibilities of splendour. The
revelation paralysed them. They gazed with wide-
open eyes, with open mouths, silent, dark, immov
Then suddenly, in the peace, the security of the
moment, there rose a shrill, mad cry, right from the
flames. The buzz of conversation halted brusquely.
White handkerchiefs rose convulsively to whitening
lips. The firemen, off on one side, began an inexplica
ble running to and fro. The nipa roared. And right
from the flame, in maddening continuance, as if from
a soul body less and in torture, came the high, shrill,
Ladies began to faint in their victorias; officers
bent over them in impotent solicitude, their faces as
white as the women s. Other men sprang from their
carriages with extraordinary resolution, ran forward
and stopped short before the heat. A Met. policeman,
huge and gaunt, skipped up and down in some sort
of monstrous dance, wringing his hands in plain
view. But on the other side, the sombre spectators
A JEST OF THE GODS 171
remained banked in immobility. Only, their eyes
opened wider and their pupils gleamed.
Then I saw Dickson. He was walking toward the
furnace, his right shoulder pushed forward, his body
flattened apologetically, begging passage through an
imaginary throng. He entered the circle of light ; a
whiff of hot air sent his hat off, and his head, his
monstrous bald head, shone a moment in rosy hues.
I shouted. He kept straight on, humble, mournful. A
roar of warning, of astonishment, came from the
crowd. He kept on, his head pensively drooped side
ways. He disappeared into the fire. Shrieks, yells,
a terrific tumult came from the carriages. And still,
as if borne up in the flame, springing with one single,
powerful twist to the purple sky, there rang the long,
shrill, continuous cry. It rose louder, more piercing,
till it vibrated in our marrow in intolerable pain. And
then we became aware that it was nearer it was
among us. A muffled, dripping, inchoate figure was
stumbling into the outer circle of light. I sprang for
ward; I tore off the dripping mantle, and there was
Dickson, his head dropped sideways, pensively consid
ering a little girl in his arms, a little Malay girl, half-
naked, who screamed still, too dazed with the horror
to know that it was past.
Really, he started to protest right away, it was
quite easy. And he made it almost so with his calm
explanation. The huts were built on poles, so that
the fire was rather high, and close to the ground it
was not so hot rather cool, he would have us be
lieve. Then the barrio was laid out with a plaza in
the centre, and it was there that, crouching on the
ground, the little girl had been, still unhurt. He had
noticed, before going in, a pile of old blankets lying
in the dirt, and a barrel of water, the barrio s old
supply, nearby. By soaking the blankets, muffling
them about him and keeping low, he had been able to
get in and out without much discomfort he coughed
a little smoke, that s all, a few superficial burns
Many willing hands there were to claim the little
girl, who was sobbing gently now. We started toward
my carriage. A thunder of clapping hands, a roar of
acclaim, announced his first step, and then his calm
deserted him. " My hat, my hat ! " he shouted ;
" where s my hat? Give it to me quick!" He trem
bled with excitement. He began to swear. " My hat ;
who s got my hat? " he shrieked, absolutely unstrung.
I gave him mine. He crushed it down to his ears. We
slunk off to the carriage, and I drove off with my
Hero cowering and darting haunted side-looks.
As we passed the Parian gate, he said : " Come on ;
let s go to the Metropole."
" No, you don t," I said, briskly. " You re going
A JEST OF THE GODS 173
straight to your room. You re going to sit down,
with a box of cigars at your elbow. You re going to
think, sit up all night and think. I ll give you the
theme. Imagine Her at that fire, a while ago. Imagine
Her impression, and weigh that against the puerility
" Good Lord, Courtland, what a sentimentalist you
are," he exclaimed. " What a sentimentalist ! " he re
peated, a while later, musingly.
But he did not get off at the Metropole, and I left
him at the door of his house. He was not at the
Metropole the next day, nor the next, nor the next.
A week later I heard that he had gone over to a
new paper, under much more pleasant management,
and that he held a desk position. I did not follow the
evolution closely, for I was busy those days. We had
been wrestling long with the monetary problem, and
now the United States Government was sending us an
Expert, an Authority, a Professor Jenkinson, who
was to settle the whole thing for us as by legerdemain.
We were preparing data for him and were infernally
busy. But what I did see of Dickson was rather en
couraging. The little red veins were disappearing
from his cheeks, a certain twitch of the right corner
of his mouth was relaxing; an indefinable briskness
was pervading his whole being, the manner of the
man who works hard and likes his work.
Finally the Big Man came. There was a tremor of
expectation in official and social circles official, for
obvious reasons; in social, because of the charming
fact that the Professor came to Manila with a bride,
romantically wooed and won in California, in pass
ing, as it were. A reception was announced at the
I went. I was late. The place was ablaze with
lights as I drove up, and polite conversation hummed
out of the windows like honey-laden bees. I did
not leave my carriage right away, my curiosity
being aroused by the suspicious behaviour of a
He was dodging among the shadows like a malefac
tor, first behind one veranda post, then behind an
other. Then he stood a while at the bottom of the
steps, buttoning up his white jacket with an air of
great resolution, and mounted. He got up four steps,
then, suddenly turning, pell-melled down again in
ridiculous funk. More sneaking in the massed gloom
beneath the veranda ; then again he stood at the bot
tom of the steps, pulling down his jacket in immense
resolution. Up half-a-dozen steps, and again the hel
ter-skelter retreat. But this time I had followed, and
he ran plump into my arms.
It was Dickson, and his face in the light showed
shockingly haggard. I don t think he knew me at
A JEST OF THE GODS 175
first. But when he did, he gripped my arm convul
sively and ran me into the shadow.
" What the devil " I began, exasperated.
" It is she," he said ; " she my God! "
" She," I repeated, stupidly ; " who is she? "
" Mrs. Jenkinson," he gasped ; " good God, Court-
land, can t you understand? The girl, the girl, you
know she s up there " he pointed upward to the
light " she s up there ; she s Mrs. Jenkinson ! "
I was incredibly affected. A great disillusion, an
immense discouragement, weighed upon me. I discov
ered that I had dreamed, that I had hoped, that I had
taken an enormous interest in that idiotic man, there,
with his absurd moral problem. And this thing, this
sudden finale, staggered me, seemed wanton and cruel
as the torturing of a little child. I was speechless.
After a while he said, very calmly, very firmly:
" Courtland, I want to see her, once more. No, there
won t be any scene. I won t come near; I won t be
seen. But I must see her, once more. Take me up
I seized his arm and we climbed the stairs. We
came to the threshold of the big reception room. I
stood there a moment, dazed by the lights, the play of
colour. Then I made her out in the centre. He had
been quicker than I, for I had felt his fingers sink
convulsively into my arm.
She was standing within a circle of bowing, smil
ing men a gracious, girlish figure, with magnificent
dark eyes. She was evidently a little bored not
bored : lonely. Unconsciously her eyes wandered from
the curvetting bipeds in front, in search of some
thing, some warmer, more intimate sympathy, toward
a knot of black-garbed men conversing seriously in a
corner the official group, I decided, right away.
Perhaps one of these appealing glances reached it,
for it broke; a tall figure stalked across the room
toward her. It was the Big Man you could tell it
from the sudden illumination of her whole being.
She looked up, girlish, admiring. He looked down,
protectingly. I heard Dickson panting behind
A horrid, racking feeling took possession of me, a
mad, monstrous desire to laugh, laugh insanely, in
maniac shrieks, to shout and slap my thighs, stamp
my feet, scream, scandalise
The Professor, standing beneath the centre cande
labra, bent his head paternally over his young wife.
The light poured down upon that head. And it was
The muchacho, in a corner of the room, turned
something with a sharp click. The lights went out,
and the gray pallor of dawn floated in slowly by door
A JEST OF THE GODS 177
and window. Courtland rose, walked to the rear door,
opened it. We followed.
He was asleep upon the table. He slept there, his
hands upon his head, his right cheek upon his arm.
In the wan light his features showed relaxed, in
infinite lassitude, as those of a child after crying;
his mouth, a little open, let pass his breathing, equal
and faint like a babe s and once in a while he sighed,
a sigh not deep, not peevish, not rebellious, but re
signed, rather, patient, gently unhappy.
We left him there. It was the end; the gods had
had their jest.
THE COMING OF THE MAESTRA
A S the prao, its two wide outriggers spread out on
each side like wings, its sail rising above straight and
stiff like a backfin, skimmed over the whitecapped
crests like a gigantic flying fish, the Maestro, his
white suit gleaming in the sun, stood at the peak,
erect and tense as a Viking of old. But he was
madder than any Viking had ever been.
For three long days he had been on that prao, while
it tacked and beat against a monsoon that was south
ern, although, according to the dictates of the
almanac and the Maestro s own ardent desires, it
should have been northern. For three days, trying
to make Ilo-Ilo, thirty miles across the strait, the lit
tle craft, with its crew clinging like monkeys at the
ends of the outriggers, had darted right and left like
a startled and very dizzy gull, while from the rudi
mentary rudder, where sat the Maestro, there poured
forth a stream of most piratical objurgations.
Neither these spiritual pleas, however, nor the mad
flurries of the flat-bottomed boat had prevailed against
the wind s blustering stubbornness, and at length they
COMING OF THE MAESTRA 179
had turned tail and run before it, and now the Maes
tro was looking upon a golden strip of beach and a
curtain of coconut palms, behind which peeped the
nipa roofs of his own little pueblo. In a few minutes
more the prao, balanced upon a white curling swell,
had slid its nose up upon the sand, and the Maestro,
with a great leap, found himself at the identical spot
from which, three days before, his heart a-pound with
strange tumult, he had embarked, too impatient to
wait for the lazy little steamer which offered regular,
if slow, passage once a week.
" Damn ! " said the Maestro, as his foot struck the
sand. " Damn ! a deuce of a bridegroom I make, I
But Tolio, his muchacho, who had stayed behind
in guard of the house, was running down the beach
toward him, waving a dirty piece of paper. It was a
telegram, transmitted by carrier from Bacolod, which
was in cable communication with Ilo-Ilo. The Maes
tro read it quickly ; then he re-read it aloud, pausing
upon each word as if to sink its dread significance
deep into his dazed brain.
" Have missed you in Ilo-Ilo. Am coming on to
morrow s steamer. Girlie."
Behind the Maestro a cast-up log was bleaching
in the sun, and he sat down upon it very suddenly and
limply, as if his bony carcass had turned to water.
" Lordie," he murmured, " and the sky-pilot gone
And truly the situation was a delicate one. For
" Girlie " of the telegram was none other than Miss
Florence Yeats, come ten thousand miles over the sea
to wed him. He should have met her in Ilo-Ilo,
where the whole American population had made glee
ful preparations for the event ; but his uncalculating
impatience and the immoral conduct of the winds had
foiled him in his attempted crossing of the straits
from his own town in Negros; and now she was
coming by the day s steamer with the sky -pilot, oth
erwise Rev. David Houston, head of the United Prot
estant Missions of Negroes, who might have afforded
a much-needed alternative, far, far away on an in
spection tour to the southern stations of the island,
and not likely to be back for a month.
So the Maestro remained on his log, inwardly tossed
by a cyclone of contradictory feelings. He could but
admire the splendid confidence of the girl, coming
straight to him without a question after he had failed
her, failed her in an appointment to be classed among
those, well, of higher importance. At the same time
it did seem to him that some kind person in Ilo-Ilo
might have warned her of the fact that he was abso
lutely the only white man in his town, and at that
neither a clergyman nor justice of the peace. He did
COMING OF THE MAESTRA 181
not rise and go home, where he could have spent a
very profitable hour changing his bedraggled gar
ments and washing his salt-grimed face. The crisis
was too near for that. The little wheezy teapot of a
steamer, with its precious and disturbing freight,
was due in anywhere from one to four hours ; and he
would not have missed the sight of its first smoky
signal at the horizon for luxuries much more dazzling.
So, joyful and unhappy, expectant and horrified, he
sat there, while Jack, his little fox terrier, who had
come down with Tolio, romped unappreciated between
his legs. Out a few hundred yards from shore,
planted upon a submerged sand bar, a long bamboo
fish-corral screened the horizon ; and the Maestro re
cited metally to himself the approach of the little
steamer. The smoke would first appear at the lower
end, then slowly would crawl along behind the high
paling, slowly, very slowly, till finally the ship itself
would burst into view past the upper end, and stand
for shore. And then
But it was a good hour before the Maestro finally
rose to his feet. " Ah," he said, " here she comes."
Behind the fish-corral, at its lower end, a thin
thread of vapour was mounting toward the sky. The
Maestro s heart expanded queerly within his breast.
But as he looked, behind the exasperating barrier a
big yellow ring, as from some gigantic pipe, rose
slowly, then another that broke through the first, and
a third that enveloped them all in one ugly smother.
"Good golly," ejaculated the Maestro, "but the
little kettle is steaming ! "
And the smoke, beginning to crawl along the corral,
ceased puffing up in rings ; it rose in one dense, funnel-
shaped cloud. " It s that soft Japanese coal," mur
mured the Maestro, " that darned Japanese coal ! "
But with eyes staring ahead, as if hypnotised, he
was walking down the beach. A ripple washed over
his feet, then a curling comber splashed up to his
knees; but he took another step, unconscious of the
water now about his hips.
Suddenly he turned, and was running back up the
beach toward a shed full of drying copra. He climbed
one of the thick corner-posts to the roof. The nipa
thatch gave beneath his weight, and it was chang
ing ground with fierce plunging stride that he looked
out to sea. But he was not high enough. The fish-
corral still made inscrutable the mystery behind, and
he could see only the smoke, now a sooty black, rising
in heavy volutes to the green sky.
He slid down and paced the sand, trying to calm
himself. But the smoke, ever more voluminous and
threatening, allowed him no peace. He ran back
farther up the shore to a coconut palm and tried to
climb the lithe, slippery trunk. The notches cut by
COMING OF THE MAESTRA 183
the monkey-like tuba-men were too far apart; the
silvery bark was like a greased pole. Twice he went
up some twenty feet, only to slip, fighting and claw
ing, clear back to the ground again. He tore off his
shoes and started up again, cutting his feet, scratch
ing and biting in a frenzy of impotent effort. He went
up higher this time, and then the slender, elastic
trunk began to sway back and forth gracefully,
dizzying him, making it difficult merely to hold on;
and with bitterness he realised that the northern mon
soon was now on, the wind for which he had prayed
in vain for three days. He could go no higher, and
still he could not see what was happening behind that
stolid barrier of bamboo poles out at sea, only the
black threat of the smoke, now drifting south like a
great piratical banner, and he slid back to the ground
full of a terrible unsatiated curiosity.
He looked down at his feet, torn and bloody, at
his disordered clothing, and noticed with strange,
objective curiosity that his whole body was trembling
as if palsy-stricken. " Oh, shucks," he said, pulling
himself together ; " I guess it s all right. It s that
Japanese coal, that darned Japanese coal." He sat
down upon the sand, trying to keep command over
himself, but his hands, independently of his will, began
wringing each other between his knees. And then he
was up and running along the crazy, sagging wharf,
his dog barking playfully at his heels. At the end
he found a banca, a little, narrow dug-out, steadied
with long outriggers. He sprang into it, cast off the
rotten piece of rope, seized the only paddle, and
shoved off with one big heave. He swirled the boat s
nose around till it pointed at the upper end of the
corral, then bent down to mad toil, slapping the water
in vibrating rhythm. And as he strained, his whole
strength in each stroke, his eyes, round with terrible
curiosity, followed the smoke as it crawled slowly
along the corral, blacker, denser, more significant
every moment. For a while he was in the smooth
water, in the shelter of the northern cape, but ahead
he could see the monsoon tearing the liquid surface
into white shreds. He bore up and was soon in the
midst of it, the short waves pounding the flanks of
the boat, the spray spitting spitefully into his eyes.
He added a new frenzy to his efforts, and then he
shot past the end of the fish-corral and saw.
Not a quarter of a mile away, the ship was coming
toward him, and it was a phantom ship. Of the ma
terial thing, of the fabric of wood and iron, there
showed nothing ; but from what was about the height
of the deck a cataract of smoke poured down the sides
in opalescent plays of grays and blacks till it met
the water and rebounded, banking up in rolling, shift
ing gauze about the ship-nucleus hidden within, while,
COMING OF THE MAESTRA 185
above, the monsoon seized the vapour, shaping it with
twists and whirls into a huge, flaccid, black hand
suspended like a curse in the sky. A sudden great
calmness came over the Maestro. Wavering from side
to side, as if the craft itself were staggering beneath
the horror of the thing, the whole phantasmagoric
fabric was coming toward him ; and with slow, de
liberate stroke he paddled to meet it, his eyes search
ing for a clew of the conditions, his mind working
to meet them. The air became vibrant with a low
growl, split with explosive cracklings, and, in the
inky smother at the bow, little red tongues flashed
up and out. He twisted his canoe around till its nose
pointed with the course of the approaching vessel and
waited, keyed up to some last possible opportunity
that must be met swiftly and unerringly. And then
the steamer passed slowly above him. A cataract of
smoke poured down upon him, a hot, furnace-breath
whelmed him with its fevered exhalation ; and he was
paddling madly beneath the stern, peering into the
trailing smoke. A more furious puff of the monsoon
tore the thing to shreds, and then he saw the boat s
population. They were clustered at the stern, hang
ing to poop-rail and rope and moulding and anchor
chain and to each other, like a troop of panic-stricken
apes at a river crossing, snarling and fighting for
the safer positions. But on the deck behind them,
apart in the spiritual retirement of higher nature and
greater courage, was a slim, blue-garbed form. She
was standing straight and proudly, her skirts, gath
ered in her left hand in a familiar movement, drawn
close about her, away from that defiling moral pud
dle of humanity.
" Girlie ! " he shouted, his whole being going out
" Lad ! " came back the answer, clear and true.
She moved forward a step, her arms stretched grop
ingly before her.
" Jump ! Jump ! Jump ! " he commanded.
She took another step and with unhesitating con
fidence leaped out into the void.
She disappeared beneath the water; he sent the
banca ahead with two long strokes, and then she
rose to the surface alongside. He leaned over and,
passing both arms below hers, he let her float back
to the stern of the boat. But before raising her he
suddenly let go with his right arm, seized the paddle,
and hit at the water a blow that struck some slimy,
slippery body. Then with a great effort he raised her
into the boat and laid her down gently. For a moment
he did not look at her, but gazed behind, shuddering,
at a sharp fin cutting the water behind in a circle.
When he turned to her she was standing, and the
COMING OF THE MAESTRA 187
light of their eyes met in a spiritual caress. Slowly
his arms spread out in an unconscious movement and
with a little choking cry she threw herself upon him,
hiding her face on his breast, while his arms closed
about her. " I knew you would be there," she mur
mured. He clasped her a little closer, and they stood
there on their crazy little craft, in the clash of waters,
wrapped together into one being, the shudder of the
past uniting them in the same thrill, the ecstasy of
the present stealing through their veins like bubbling
wine. A squall had the little boat in its grasp; it
passed above in the upper layers of air with great
sharp cries; the boat drifted madly down the coast
and away from it ; but they knew of no danger, knew
only that they were in each other s arms, that the
past was fading away from them like a gone and
impotent nightmare. Vague and faint, a sound like
the bursting of a paper bag came to his ears, and
toward the shore he saw, with eyes that did not under
stand, incongruous objects falling from the sky a
twisted smokestack, half of a jolly-boat, a bucket,
boards, a multitude of smaller shredded bits, and
aperch on the reef was a shell of a ship, undecked,
the blackened interior opened to the skies, pouring
out a cone of black smoke. He held her closer, her
eyes against his breast, and a palm-lined cape drifted
past, hiding the thing from view, hiding the last
vestige of what had happened, and they slid on into
the illimitable sea, into the future of far horizons.
After a while she disengaged herself a bit and, toy
ing with the middle button of her jacket, " You love
me a whole lot, don t you? " she asked in a question
that was not a question.
" Yes, little girl," he answered obediently.
There was another long silence and the boat drifted
another two hundred yards.
" Oh, what a pretty dog ! " she exclaimed, for her
eyes had been wandering below his arms. " Is it
yours ? "
And then he became aware of Jack beneath the
thwart, whining, with eye apologetic and tail con
ciliatory, in the warring impulses of friendliness and
reserve. She stooped down with inviting gesture, and
the pup, with a little yelp, leaped into her arms. The
Maestro looked down upon them, a little jealousy in
his approving smile. But the interruption had sud
denly made him alive to the situation.
" Jehoshaphat ! " he exclaimed, looking at the now
distant shore, down which and away from which they
were drifting at a rapid rate ; " it s about time to
pull in ! "
But this very sane remark was not immediately fol
lowed by action. The Maestro was looking blankly at
the bottom of the canoe where lay what once had been
COMING OF THE MAESTRA 189
a paddle, but was now only a handle without blade.
The memory of the manner in which this transforma
tion had taken place sent his eyes back over the water
behind, and a frown came on his face. Right and left,
with a movement regular as that of a sentinel pacing
his beat, a black fin like a butcher s cleaver was cut
ting the water.
" What s the matter, Lad? " asked the young lady,
still stooping over the dog, and astonished at the
silence. " Can t you find the oars ? "
" Well, no ; fact is these boats have no oars."
" Oh," cried the bride, immediately interested by
this picturesque fact, and rising to her feet ; " don t
they have any oars? How do you make them
" Paddle them, usually," answered the groom rue
Her eyes fell upon the lamentable remains of the
lone paddle, and suddenly the air was athrill with a
joyous laughing peal.
"Oh, how jolly!" she exclaimed. "We re ship
wrecked, aren t we? We ll go away out in the ocean,
won t we? Isn t this a land of adventure, though!"
" Well, rather," said the Maestro dryly.
And, there being nothing else to do, he sat down at
the bottom of the boat and drew her to his knees. She,
with feminine altruism, completed the chain by tak-
ing Jack upon hers, and they drifted on upon the
flashing sea. " It s just delicious," murmured the
bride, feeling the warm tropical sun drying her clothes
upon her. But the groom did not chime in. He was
There was no immediate danger in the situation,
but the prospects for the future were hardly to be
termed " delicious." The monsoon that, probably
aided by the tide-current, was sweeping them on, had
not yet kicked up much of a sea and seemed to be
abating in strength; and the little banca, buoyant
like a cork upon its outriggers, rode the waves with
cheerful alacrity. The spray that now and then
dashed upon them was blood-warm and occasioned
no discomfort, and their wet clothes were fairly steam
ing under the rays of the tropical sun. Still they
were drifting steadily, with the island of Panay some
thirty miles to their right, Negros to their left,
its shores, diverging from their course, farther and
farther away. They might drift on thus between the
islands without touching either of them for days, till
out into the China Sea, though the lack of food made
even that undelightful alternative but a vague one.
As for the chances of meeting a vessel, they were
slighter still, only a few lorchas plying between the
islands at long intervals. And then there was the
grim diagnosis of the being with the fin, swimming
COMING OF THE MAESTRA 191
back and forth, back and forth, behind the boat,
with ominous patience.
" If we re shipwrecked, we ought to be doing some
thing," said the bride suddenly, in the tone of one
announcing the concluding clause of a syllogism.
" That s right," acquiesced the Maestro ; " we
ought to do something."
" We should empanel a jury," said the bride
" Empanel a jury," repeated the Maestro, some
" Oh," said the bride, blushing, " I mean a jury-
rudder. We should empanel a jury-rudder."
" You mean rig up a jury-rudder," exclaimed the
Maestro, a flashing light of understanding in his
eyes ; " rig is the more nautical term."
" Oh, yes," cried the bride delightedly ; " that s it ;
we must rig up a jury-rudder ! "
"Well," said the Maestro, after a moment s
thought; "jury-rudders, you know, are rigged up
when the real rudder has been carried away. But we
never had a real rudder ; therefore we can t very well
have a jury one."
" Oh," said the bride, disappointed.
She was silent a moment; then inspiration again
" We should signal a ship," she said decidedly.
" Signal a ship," repeated the Maestro, looking
about him idiotically.
" Yes," said the bride ; " put up the flag upside
down in sign of distress."
" But we have no flag," said the groom hopelessly.
" Use my kerchief," said the bride resourcefully.
" Upside down ? " queried the Maestro. " But there
is no mast."
" Put up an oar," she said bravely.
" But there is no oar."
" Oh," she said, again discouraged.
There was another thoughtful silence ; but she was
not to be overwhelmed.
" We must get food," she said ; " we must fish."
" That s right," chimed the Maestro resolutely ;
" we must fish. Have you any hooks ? "
" I have pins," she said.
" I have string," he said.
He fumbled through his pockets and drew two
pieces of sorry twine. She turned her back upon him,
worked mysteriously at her garments, and handed him
five pins. " Bend them into hooks," she said.
He kneeled down and, after pricking his fingers
several times, succeeded in bending two pins against
the thwart. He passed them through the ends of the
twine, and they were the possessors of two fishing
COMING OF THE MAESTRA 193
" You fish in front and I ll fish in back," she said ;
" that way we won t catch the same fish."
" No," said the Maestro, looking behind at the
water where the black fin seemed playfully trying to
cut its initials ; " you fish at the bow and I ll fish at
They took their respective positions and cast con
scientiously. Jack, interested, began to run from one
to the other, barking. " S-s-s-h," hissed the Maestro ;
" you ll scare the fish ! " But the warning evidently
came too late ; the fish refused to bite.
" I m lonely," finally said a voice at the bow ;
" come here and talk to me while I fish."
The Maestro dropped his tackle with suspicious
alacrity and went forward. The bride continued
casting with a gradual diminuendo of enthu
" I don t think this is much fun, do you? " she
pouted. "Let s stop."
So they sat down again, she on his knees, Jack in
her arms. The wind was going down, the sun was less
scorching, and it was pleasant and quiet. To the left
the palm-lined shore showed farther and farther
away ; and they were still drifting in the grip of some
stubborn current. Suddenly she was laughing, a
quiet, self-contained peal at some pleasant thought
" It s dinner time," she said between two musical
" But you didn t catch any fish," he said.
She laughed again. " Bring me my grip," she
ordered. And she pointed to a little dripping satchel,
to which, with the tenacity of unconsciousness, she
had clung throughout the crisis, and which now lay,
unheeded, at the bottom of the boat.
He handed it to her; but when they went to open
it, they found it locked, and she had lost the key.
He brought his knife out of his pocket and opened
" Oh, my poor grip," she exclaimed in dismay.
But he slashed at it un sentimentally.
The interior was only slightly wet. Through the
gaping hole she took a white lace kerchief and spread
it upon the centre thwart. Again her hand went into
the grip and successively she drew a little bottle of
olives, four figs, three crackers, and a diminutive
flask of milk. She arranged them daintily upon the
cloth and then, sitting at the bottom of the boat with
the table between them, face to face, they gaily dined
" Oh, I ve eaten so much," she sighed at last as
she presented the last fig to Jack, who gulped it
down trustingly. " I think I should have a nap, don t
COMING OF THE MAESTRA 195
He took her up in his arms as a child and cradled
her, but she did not sleep right away. Out in the
China Sea ahead, the sun was setting in gloomy
splendour. They watched it till it was only a puddle
of blood upon the waters ; and then darkness dropped
like a leaden curtain upon the shimmering sea. From
all sides the horizon drew near in black walls across
which the heat-lightning wrote in rageful zigzags.
The wind had gone down still more and little waves
slapped up against the sides of the boat like caresses.
A great loneliness, half sweet, half bitter, descended
" I m a little afraid, Lad," she murmured. Jack
began to whine and she took him up ; then, cuddling
closer, she went asleep. And the little boat drifted on
in the illimitable darkness, the girl and the dog asleep,
and the man awake with care and tenderness, while
behind a phosphorescence streaked back and forth,
back and forth, in ceaseless vigil.
Toward midnight he saw a light far to the left,
fixed as if on shore, and he began shouting over the
water. This awakened the girl and she joined her
melodious halloo to his cries, while Jack barked wildly.
But there came no response, and after a while they
stopped and went back to their first position. Later,
a sudden creaking in the silence startled him, and not
a hundred feet away a lorcha was passing like a
shadow, all sails set wing-and-wing, the helm lashed,
with no man on the watch. Again he shouted and the
voice of the girl and the bark of the dog j oined him ;
but again there was no response, and slowly, like
some enchanted fabric, the vessel melted into the dark
ness ahead. Then again the girl went asleep in his
arms, the dog upon her knees, while he watched in the
night and the silence, a great tenderness at his
Later he must have gone asleep, for, when stirred
by a murmur in his ear and a caress on his brow, he
looked up into her eyes, the sky above was all green
and rose with the dawn, and Jack was yelping madly
at the bow. He started to get up but she detained
" No, sir ; you mustn t look," she said ; " I have
a surprise for you." She placed her hands over his
eyes and turned his head as he rose to his knees.
" Now look ! " she exclaimed, suddenly freeing him.
And his eyes opened upon a line of coconut palms,
with a golden thread of beach at their feet, not a
hundred feet away.
He sprang out into the shallow water and pulled
the boat up on shore. The sun was rising and they
lay down on the sand, thawing their limbs, stiffened
by the heavy night-dew, while Jack ran up and down
the shore, barking at the rippling waves. It was a
COMING OF THE MAESTRA 197
balmy morning; before them stretched the sea, a
smooth shimmering gray sheet, with vague palpita
tions of darker hues ; from behind came the scented
exhalation of the land and the mad barks of the
dog, precipitated one upon the other, filled the air
with a wild tumult of joy. A sweet lethargy stole
through their veins ; the problems of their existence,
of their whereabouts, of food and shelter, of their re
turn to his town were things for the future, for a
far, remote, hazy future ; the present had them in its
After a while a little brown boy, a net over his
shoulder, came singing down the beach. At the sight
of the two strangers he turned and ran, but the Maes
tro was up and after him and had him in his strong
arms before he could reach the shelter of the coco
nuts. A few words in his own patois and the soft
voice of the white lady reassured the little savage,
and he led them along a trail through the trees to
a small barrio of tuba-gatherers. At the door of one
of the huts the urchin s mother, an immense fat crone,
greeted them. They climbed the rickety bamboo lad
der into the dwelling and accepted the seat of honour,
a sagging bamboo bench, while with many pitying
exclamations at their plight, the rotund lady busied
herself and stirred up a most abominable smoke upon
her cooking platform. When the repast was ready it
was seen to consist of two eggs and a banana swim
ming in suspicious grease, but the visitors were not
fastidious. Meanwhile the boy outside climbed a tall
palm, and soon the glade was resounding with the
whacks of bolos and the crash of coconuts tumbling
to the ground. They drank the milk and ate the white
meat and gently refused some atrociously fermented
tuba pressed ardently to their lips. All this time the
Maestro was busy with his questions and he found
that they were on Negros, some thirty miles south of
their town, with Bago, a large village, where they
would be able to secure a carabao and cart, only a few
So, as soon as was compatible with the somewhat
deliberate Filipino courtesy, they started toward
Bago, the whole population of the barrio watching
them disappear through the trees. They soon struck
the road and swung upon it. The sun, still low, dealt
gently with the new arrival, and the country was
beautiful. To their left the flashing-green rice-fields
sloped toward the sea, and the shimmering waters
showed here and there through the curtain of palms.
To their right the high sugar cane, serried and
plumed, throbbing mysteriously with small animal life,
walled the view. They were somewhat dilapidated.
The Maestro was barefooted and hatless, and his once-
white suit hung lamentably upon his frame ; the girl s
COMING OF THE MAESTRA 199
hair had come loose and fell like a golden cataract
down her back ; but their hearts were purring with in
effable joy and everything was good. Hand in hand
they strode along like children, stopping here and
there to pick a flower and gaze into each other s eyes,
while Jack raced madly, now in front, now behind
After a while a horseman came into view down the
golden ribbon of road, riding toward them. As he
neared he showed as a white- j acketed cork-helmeted
Caucasian upon a diminutive native pony. The Maes
tro was gazing intently at the approaching figure.
Suddenly he stopped short, his mouth open in as
" Well, I ll be danged," he exclaimed, " if it isn t
the sky-pilot ! "
" The sky-pilot? " asked the girl, astonished by this
" Sure," corroborated the Maestro ; " that s Hus
ton, the missionary."
"The missionary!" ejaculated the young lady.
She turned toward the Maestro ; the Maestro turned
toward her, and their eyes met. A slight blush rose
to her cheeks.
" What luck ! " cried the Maestro fervently.
" Here, you sit down there," he said, pointing to a
little mound by the side of the road. And not wait-
Ing to see if his invitation had been accepted, he
rushed ahead toward the horseman.
The little pony was pulled up short, and the girl,
sitting down with her eyes rigidly ahead, caught
snatches of an animated conversation. Finally the
missionary dismounted and the two men came toward
"Are you willing?" asked the missionary, as he
stood, hat off, before her after the introduction. He
was a young man, clean-shaven, very different from
her preconceived idea of his kind, and there was a
little gleam of fun in his blue eyes.
" Well " she hesitated and looked intently at
the tip of her foot, peeping beyond the bottom of her
skirt. A cricket in the cane burst out in a shrill laugh.
She raised her head and plunged her eyes steadily
into those of the amused inquisitioner.
" I m always willing to do what Lad wishes," she
said, placing her hand upon the Maestro s shoulder.
They moved beneath the shade of a bamboo thicket,
and the missionary, standing before the boy and the
girl, the bridle of his pony passed around his arm,
read words out of a little book that he had taken
from his saddlebag.
But before he had gone very far, the Maestro be
gan to fumble at his jacket. With some difficulty
he drew from some inward recess a little buckskin
COMING OF THE MAESTRA 201
bag, and when the missionary, hesitating, stopped in
the middle of a passage, the Maestro nodded his head
encouragingly. " Go on ; it s all right," he said, and
he passed something that glittered upon the ring-
finger of the girl.
" Whom God hath united let no man part," said
the missionary. He closed his book, stepped forward,
and kissed the girl on the forehead.
" That was well done," said the Maestro. And
he also kissed the girl, but not on the forehead.
They stood together for a while, speaking in ab
sent-minded tones, the missionary of his missions,
the Maestro of his schools, and then the Maestro and
the girl started on again toward Bago. But Huston
did not mount right away. He stood looking at them
as they walked along the road, side by side, as they
were to be through life, the dog frisking gleefully at
their heels. They came to a turn in the highway and
with a sudden joyous skip they vanished behind the
cane, hand in hand like children.
Huston rose slowly into his saddle. " Come on.
little horse," he said kindly ; " come on ; we re not
\VHEN Sergeant Blount s detachment marched
into San Juan, and in the centre of the plaza grounded
arms with a crash that ran along the stone flagging
in vibrating menace, the little pueblo cowered in a
completeness of fear and abject surrender never
reached before. Like lizards a few brown beings here
and there slid out of sight ; and the big blue-shirted
men, grouped there beneath the white sunlight, found
themselves as in a vacuum of heat and silence. But
they had an uneasy sensation of eyes, eyes timorous
and hostile, shifting and malevolent, from behind
closed shutters and torn nipa walls peering upon them
in tremulous distrust. In her stall at the head of the
street, Eustefania, hundred-year-old, wrinkled, black,
toothless, was hastily gathering up her store two
mangoes, a cluster of bananas, a dozen rice cakes,
five twine-wrapped cheroots into her pafiuelo with
trembling hands. And Pedro Lasco, crouching upon
the stone steps of the church, a cigarette between
his fingers, found his simple and complex soul filled
with a new and inexplicable tumult.
For from the man standing there at the head of the
little troop there radiated Mastery. Pedro, in his
blind, dark way, tried to analyse the impression, to
find how this particular being differed from other tall,
gaunt, brutal Americans that he had met in the past,
before whom he had quailed physically, but never
morally ; but immediately he was submerged in that
feeling he so hated of confusion, blackness, bewilder
ment which invariably seized him whenever he, man
of a primitive race, sought to penetrate his own soul,
obscure with complications beyond his power to read.
This alone he could tell : that this man, among his
six-footers, towered by half a head, that his shoul
ders were broad, that his hair was golden like that
of the Santa Madre seen once, long ago, in the
cathedral at Lipa. Later, by patience of eye and
obstinacy of contemplation he discovered other facts :
that the campaign hat of the Sergeant was wider-
brimmed and more rakishly set than those of his fel
low; that his belt hung down loose along the right
thigh, to the weight of a huge, silver-mounted six-
shooter which was not the regulation Colt s ; that,
when he walked, his feet tinkled with long, rotary
spurs, and that a red bandana, knotted negligently
about the neck, flamed up the blue and khaki with
The men stood at ease in the centre of the plaza.
The Sergeant took from his breast pocket a cake of
tobacco, bit off a piece with a slight swagger, then
looked about him carefully. His eyes met those of
Pedro. " Alica, caybigan come here, friend ! " he
shouted with cavalier amicability.
" Caybigan friend ! " The obscure emotions in
Pedro s breast surged suddenly into something almost
definite, something big and soft that was sweet and
compelled. Slowly he came down the steps in feline
grace of movement and stood gravely before the big
man, one foot slightly in front of the other, his right
hand upon his pliable waist. The Sergeant looked
down upon him, pulling at his blonde mustache. He
smiled. The smile passed over Pedro in a shadow of
indefinite discomfort ; unconsciously he stiffened up,
a little defiant.
" You take us to the best house here, caybigan,"
said the Sergeant.
The smile had gone, and that other sensation, of
sweetness and good will, again possessed Pedro.
" Opo," he answered simply.
And this was the beginning of the bond. Pedro
showed the Sergeant the house best suited for cuartel,
the natural spot for a horse-corral, the watering place
at the river. That night, after he had been dismissed
and had eaten his rice and fish, Pedro squatted long
upon the bamboo floor of his little hut, pondering in
his rudimentary way over the day s events. It was
a poor hut, small, astonishingly bare; for Pedro s
wealth was below, beneath the high, post-elevated
floor. There, laid crosswise upon sustaining poles,
were his hunting spears, harpoons, and paddles;
keel-up upon the ground his banca, long, sharp-
prowed, reptilian, and, hanging from post to post in
heavy folds, ensilvered with fish-scales, his great drag
net. But his mind was not upon his riches ; what he
tried to read within him was dark and shifting ; this
only he could draw plainly from it: a passionate
desire to serve that big, golden-haired man with the
jingling spurs, the red bandana, the rakish sombrero,
to serve, blindly, unquestioning, like a dog, with
fatigue of body, and outpouring of sweat, and
tongue-licking of boots. But even this feeling was not
clear like a simple flame; athwart it there leaped a
contradictory shadow. The smile; it was the smile.
Pedro tried to consider it squarely, but that bewilder
ment which possessed him always when he attempted
to read his soul, complicated with complications of
which he had not the key, seized him with acute dis
tress ; and with an impatient gesture he brushed away
the obsession, as he would a fly buzzing importunately
before his eyes. He lingered long upon the clearer
impulse, the idea of service, of devotion. " Caybi-
gan," he murmured softly ; " caybigan " and in the
balmy silence of the night the drawled syllables hung
long with lingering sweetness.
Early the next morning he was about the cuartel,
and when the Sergeant emerged, splendid in the rising
sun, he was standing before him, alert of body, grave
of eyes. " Hello, caybigan," shouted the Sergeant
gaily; "going to help me, eh?" He pulled at his
golden moustache; he smiled. A vague discomfort
possessed Pedro ; unconsciously he drew back one step
in deer-like movement. But as the smile disappeared
and the Sergeant stood there, pensive with the day s
plans, the impulse to serve this being, to toil, suffer
for him, again swelled within his heart in choking
longing. They were together all that day. Pedro
took the Sergeant over the whole pueblo, pointed out
the natural points of defense, of vulnerability, showed
him where the outposts should be placed, took him to
the ford, circled wide about the huddle of huts, dis
covering all the hidden trails radiating out to the
plains, the hills, toward the lairs of the Insurrectos.
" Good-night, caybigan," said the Sergeant as they
parted that evening.
" Paalan, caybigan," answered Pedro.
All day he had longed to slip that word
" caybigan," and now he stood still a moment, tremu
lous like a wild thing, noting the effect. But the
Sergeant seemed to accept. He turned on his heel
with a gesture of the hand and tinkled into the cuartel,
while Pedro sped to his hut, his heart in tumult.
There he squatted long in the anguish of obscure
analysis. It was the smile again, that almost im
perceptible twitch of the corners of the mouth which
the Sergeant had always as he looked down upon
Pedro. Pedro tried to picture it there, in the dark
ness; but it eluded him mockingly, vivid before him
for the time of a spark, then gone before he could
pounce upon it, seize it in interpretation. It was a
That day was only the first passed in a service that
as time went on, grew increasingly closer, more exact
ing from the one, more sacrificing from the other.
It was in the midst of the Bell campaign. Dragging
the country like a net, there marched ceaselessly large
bodies of men. Behind them nipa roared ; black volutes
of smoke rose heavily to the sky, broke against the
turquoise lid and, rebounding, filled the air with acrid
haze. At night the horizon glowed as with phos
phorescence ; great, scorched trees threw their thou
sand arms in hysterical gesture to a lurid heaven.
The country took on a bleached, tortured, convulsive
aspect. The rivers ran pink with the blood of slaugh
tered cattle. And night and day, along the highways,
the awed populations passed, women with babies
astride their hips, upon their heads panuelos knotted
about a few handfuls of rice; men limp-armed,
empty-handed; barefooted they pattered along the
roads in thousands, toward the reconcentration
camps, noiseless, speechless, stupefied, sullen-eyed
and half mad. But up in the hills grim Malvar, starv
ing, still hung on ; though some of his men began to
trickle down, famished, enfevered, without volition,
sucked down by the void of desolation made about
And the great cry, reiterated incessantly from
headquarters, athrill in men s mouths, on telegraph
and telephone, was a ceaseless " Get the guns ; get
the guns ; get the guns ! " And the soldiery, wild with
powder, fire, and carnage; that great cry ringing in
their enfevered brains like a hallucination, " got
guns " by deeds which, in their rare, cooler moments,
came back to them as incredible nightmares. It was
in this work that Sergeant Blount, athirst for praise
and splendour of fame, threw himself with his fero
cious energy and that Pedro proved the invaluable
helpmate. He had been a great hunter; he could
track like an Apache ; and to this he united a singular
faculty for obtaining information among his people.
To the two caybigans the slightest starting point
sufficed a rumour, for instance, that a man with a
gun had passed a certain place at a certain time.
Instantly they had saddled and were off, and from the
spot Pedro trailed like a hound, leaping from sign to
sign. Often the trail led into the bosom of the hills
and regretfully they had to stop before the probabil
ity of disappearing into an insurrecto stronghold.
But often also the trail, circling, doubled back
to one of the few pueblos, such as San Juan,
kept here and there like oases in the desert of desola
tion, as baits, as constant, hypnotising promise of
ease, of rest, of plenty to the outlaws starving,
desperate, in the hills. And then Pedro s more subtle
faculty came to the fore. He questioned, threatened,
cajoled, bluffed, pleaded, leaped from induction to
induction, till he had settled upon the man, the treach
erous " amigo " in league with the enemy. Sometimes
even there Pedro s persuasive powers were enough;
more often Blount then began to act and there were
scenes better left undescribed. So, little by little, the
cuartel filled with a strange captured arsenal, and
Blount s soul with satisfaction. Sometimes it was a
Mauser, oiled, polished, pretty as a toy; more often
a rusty Remington or German needle-gun; but also
there were pathetic makeshifts a piece of water-
pipe tied to a rough-hewn block of wood, loaded by
the muzzle and set off by the hot butt of a cigarette.
So Pedro rode, slept, ate, toiled with the Sergeant,
and by the whole pueblo, soldier and native, he was
called " Caybigan " ; by all except Eustef ania,
crouching day after day like a mahogany sculpture
upon the latticed floor of her little tienda. The old
woman was jealous. One day when the soldiers, in
wild hilarity, had seized upon her basket of embryo
ducks cooked in the shell and were hurling them at
each others heads, Blount had interfered. And now,
whenever he passed, splendid, along the street, the old
woman, like a statue coming to life, descended trem
ulously from her pedestal and, running in front of
him, bowed low and tried to kiss his hand.
And yet in this service, in this renunciation, Pedro
did not find the complete satisfaction that he craved.
A heavy uneasiness was with him always, in rest or
work, in peace or peril; a dull irritation, an obscure
anguish that he could not fathom, but which
each day became more oppressive, more insist
ent. It was the smile of his caybigan. At night he
faced the distress of mental analysis, hour after hour,
contemplating fixedly that smile. In its presence a
strange weakness, a subtle debility, possessed him;
to resist this he dwelt upon his past achievements. He
had been a great hunter of hill and water. At the
deer runs he was always leading ginete, galloped
madly after the tremulous game, hour after hour,
over mountain, down precipice, till he had worn it
down, rode flank to flank with it and, seizing the
moment, plunged his long lance into the throbbing
spot behind the shoulder. And once when a caiman
had snatched his goat off the bank of the river, he had
plunged into the black pool; seeking the saurian
into the oozy depths where sullenly it lay like a rock
upon its prey, he had twined about it his big net
and, springing back to the surface, with his friends
had triumphantly dragged it out to earth. Loud had
been sung his praises during the fiesta that followed,
while the viscous thief, corralled with bamboo poles,
both eyes gouged out, died slowly beneath the sun,
upon the baking strand. Yes, he was a big man ; even
his caybigan, with hair of gold and tinkling spurs,
could he have done better? But before the smile,
malign there in the dark, all this, all these deeds,
this valour seemed bleached of colour and meaning.
A heavy discouragement weighed upon him.
One night, at last, he came to a conclusion. And it
expressed itself in one word, short and electric.
" Patay ! " he said ; " patay kill ! "
He would kill the smile.
He climbed down the bamboo ladder and, beneath
the floor, went directly to the big net, hanging from
post to post. From one of the flaccid folds he drew
an object. In three leaps he was up again, and in
the faint light of his little tin lamp, for a while he
acted like a child with a doll. He crouched down,
the thing upon his knee, spoke to it with tender ac-
cent, stroked it with long, gentle caress. But it was
not a doll; it was a gun, a dainty Mauser carbine.
It was oiled and polished, and beautiful, but he spent
two hours over it, cleaning, oiling, snapping the
delicate machinery. Then, with a sigh of satisfaction,
he went down again and laid the precious toy among
the secretive folds of the net.
The following evening, as in the moonlight the
Sergeant rode out to inspect the outposts, a shot
rang near and a bullet wailed overhead. Pedro,
through the bush screening him, saw the great horse
shy and rear, saw the Sergeant s graceful, almost
lazy recover. Then man and beast stood still, black,
statuesque in the sheen of moon, the horse with ears
cocked forward, trembling beneath the compelling
reining hand, the man erect and proud on the high-
pommelled saddle. There was a silence long as in
finity. The horse champed resoundingly at the heavy
Mexican bit. Pedro panted. Slowly the Sergeant
turned his head, from the thicket to the right, to the
golden ribbon of road ahead, then smoothly, in im
perceptible movement, to the left. His eyes were upon
Pedro; they seemed to pierce the screen of brush to
halt penetratingly upon the assassin. And upon the
face, clear in the moonlight, appeared the smile.
A sense of immense helplessness whelmed Pedro ;
he crouched lower; his hands, flaccid, dropped their
hold upon the gun which sank softly in the high
cogon. There was a long, throbbing silence. Then
the tinkle of spur rang out in silvery note. With an
elastic bound the horse leaped forward, immediately
to be checked by the powerful guiding hand ; and
slowly they moved down the moonlit road, horse and
man, huge, black, granite-hewn unconquerable.
But Pedro, sneaking back, low behind the thicket,
pressed both hands to his breast as if to hold there the
germ of an idea he felt within; and with feverish
haste hiding his gun, he crouched down at his ac
customed place to face it. It was a dolorous process.
The thing sparked, flamed, wavered, went out com
pletely, sparked anew. He contemplated it fixedly,
encouraged it, fanned it ; and finally for a moment it
blazed, vivid, calm, unforgettable.
" Alipusta ! " he shouted triumphantly ; " alipusta
contempt ! " " Alipusta," he repeated slowly, con
templatively, the triumph of discovery sinking into
the ashes of realisation. Yes, that was it ; it was con
tempt, that smile, the smile of his caybigan; con
tempt, thorough, tranquil, absolute.
During the following days, Pedro worked with
renewed frenzy. There was some rumour of the pres
ence of an Insurrecto camp near the pueblo some-
where. Pedro went about the taos, cajoled, threat
ened, flattered, begged, cross-questioned, menaced
in the full exercise of his singular gift, progressing
from rumour to probability, from probability to cer
tainty, and then he searched the country like a hound,
along subterranean trails, springing from trace to
trace, hour after hour closer. But all the time he
shot sly side glances at his big caybigan, in ambush
for the smile, the smile of contempt which, as he
worked more and more feverishly, nearer and nearer
success, came to the Sergeant s lips with growing
frequency, with less and less restraint, with increasing
insolence. And at his heart a desire gnawed, a black,
obscure desire for something, something he could
not tell what something he could not determine, but
which now was indispensable to him, without which he
could not live; something that tasted like water
to his thirst, but was not water. He wished no more
to kill; the new longing overwhelmed the other more
primitive impulse. It was something bigger, grander,
more magnificent ; it tore at his bowels, a want, vague,
unnamable, but of corrosive violence. On the third
day they located the camp ; travelling sinuously along
a trace of trail they saw at last, through the bamboo
thicket, the pointed roof of the Insurrecto cuartel
a nipa hut in the centre of a clearing. They stopped
a moment in consultation ; then Pedro slid smoothly
through the cogon toward the camp. Half-an-hour
later he was back, sprang up suddenly as from the
earth at the feet of the Sergeant.
" Tacbo gone," he said.
The Sergeant was accustomed to such disappoint
ments. Tilting back his wide-brimmed sombrero in
philosophical gesture, he followed Pedro toward the
clearing. But as they broke out of the thicket he
gripped his guide s arm with iron fingers and with
a bound threw himself back into cover. For before
the hut human figures sprawled in feigned sleep, their
guns stacked behind them, and at the windows
shadowy forms lurked. " What the devil " he be
" Tacbo," reiterated Pedro ; " manica dolls," he
The Sergeant understood, and with a swaggering
clink of spurs stepped out again. It was as Pedro
had said. The recumbent figures upon the ground
were dummies of grass and cloth; the stacked guns
were rough wooden counterfeits. They climbed the
bamboo ladder into the house. More of the grotesque
shapes were there, legs divergent and back-jointed;
two leaned at the window, their hollow bellies bent
at right angles over the sill, in solemn, peering at
titudes. In the breeze their loose white camisas moved
softly in undulating shivers; their big straw hats
flapped like wings of bats. Hanging from the central
rafter was a lamp, smouldering in yellow spark
and sooty smoke; and against the harsh down
pour of clear sunlight outside this little, soiled
flame gave to the whole crew of contorted bodies
an aspect of death, of carnage, of decay. The Ser
geant caught himself sniffing the air. " Let s get out
of this," he said.
They climbed down the rude stairs again, and in
stinct, more than Pedro s guidance, took the Sergeant
to the right, some fifty yards into the bush and there
it was, the trench : parallel to the trail, broad, deep,
and all littered with signs of recent occupancy.
The Sergeant stood still, looking at the hut, at the
trench, at the trail. He twirled his moustache pen
sively ; muttered exclamations came to his lips.
It was a pretty arrangement. A detachment, com
ing along the trail behind the guides and bursting
out into this clearing, with its lure of men recumbent
upon the ground, of stacked arms, of vague forms
at the windows, shadowed forth by the lamplight be
hind, would immediately charge in attempted sur
prise. Then from the brush to the right, the trench s
enfilading murder it was pretty indeed.
Again the Sergeant took in all the details, his head
turning from point to point, from the hut to the trail,
from the trail to the trench, then back again, assur-
ing himself of the perfection of the plan. And Pedro
looked at the Sergeant; as if hypnotised he stepped
closer, in long, feline strides, coming suddenly at
far intervals, his whole lithe body a-quiver. For there,
in the eyes of the Sergeant, the caybigan, growing
stronger, clearer, more certain every moment, there
it shone, his Desire, the form and shape at last of his
obscure torturing desire. It was that that which
shone in the eyes of the Sergeant as he contemplated
the perfection of the plot it was that he longed for,
thirsted for, that which he must have himself, abso
lutely, to guard and treasure and cherish. It was
there, the torturing want of his entrails, there, but
not his, not his yet.
Back in his hut that night, after hours of obscure
battling, he named it at last. " Magtaca," he said,
with heavy finality ; " magtaca admiration."
And then instantly he leaped to the next step.
66 For the enemy, magtaca ; for the caybigan, ali-
He hissed out the last word like an expectoration.
Yes, that was it : for the enemy, admiration ; for
him, the friend, the servitor, the caybigan, contempt.
Pedro slid down to the big net below. And long in
the dim light of his little lamp he oiled and cleaned
and polished and caressed.
A mysterious enemy began to vex the little detach
ment of San Juan with the puerile attacks.
Every night a Mauser bullet came wailing down
the Lipa road and passed over the outpost with a re
sounding hiss. The first time this occurred, the lone
sentinel, returning the fire, doubled back prudently
upon the guard rushing out to his support. Tense in
vigilance the little troops waited for the attack. But
it did not come. At regular intervals a lone bullet
screeched above their heads, and that was all. Finally
they charged along the highway. A few more de
tached shots met them ; then there was silence.
The following night the same thing took place
the wail of the lone bullet, the alarm, the pursuit
A new plan was tried. Four men were placed at
the outpost with saddled horses within reach. At the
humming approach of the first shot they leaped into
their saddles and thundered down the highway; it
stretched before them, moon-golden between the
black thickets, and deserted. Returning they scouted
the brush, the big horses crashing down the thick
vegetation. But there was nothing.
A corps of native beaters was added the next night.
They searched the bush thoroughly on both sides of
the road. The shrill katydids dropped into silence;
lizards, snakes, iguanas, loathsome beasts of ob
scurity rustled off in panic. But that was all.
Caybigan was called to the rescue. For two days
he worked upon the inhabitants of the pueblo. But for
once his wonderful faculty failed him; he found no
trace of the secret enemy.
An ambush was prepared. Ten men at early dawn
lay down in the bush near the spot from which it was
calculated the bullets came. All day they lay there,
low, without a whisper, without a movement. But
when night came, it was the other outpost, at the op
posite extremity of the pueblo, which was attacked.
After this last effort the thing was accepted as
routine. There was a childishness, a puerility about
it that made the men smile. They grew rather to like
this little excitement, breaking the monotony of long
But gradually the affair grew more interesting.
The man was learning to shoot. Each night the
leaden missile screeched a little lower, a little closer.
Finally, one night, the guard, when relieved, was
found walking his post with his left arm limp along
his side, neatly punctured by one of the mysterious
On the same morning, Blount, walking along the
main street, was stopped by old Eustefania.
" Mi capitan," she said, cringing before him, " do
you wish to know who shoots your soldiers at night? "
"Who?" asked the Sergeant curtly.
" Caybigan," she said.
From the depths of their caves her eyes glowed at
him, fixed, violent.
And to the Sergeant the answer came as the revela
tion of something long and obscurely felt. Caybi-
gan s absence from the night alarms, his singular
failure to track down the sharpshooter, the ridicu
lous fiasco of the attempted ambuscade a thousand
and one little links suddenly clinked shut at the word
in a chain of evidence, of certainty.
The Sergeant turned sharp on his heel; his spurs
rang on the stone flagging. In the centre of the
plaza Caybigan, in his graceful, elastic pose, half-
confident, half -wild, was bandying with three of the
blue-shirted soldiers. Blount made straight for the
group. When near he began to run, his face con
vulsed with the rage, half real, half assumed, which
experience had taught him invaluable for such mo
ments. With a tiger leap he bore upon Pedro,
clutched his throat with his great hands, and threw
him to the ground.
Pedro went down without a quiver of resistance,
and he lay there a white figure in the gray dust, his
arms thrown out in a cross-like attitude of infinite
surrender. His brown eyes looked up into the cold
green light of the- Sergeant s with golden luminosity ;
he smiled gently. " And this from my caybigan," he
" None of your Julius Csesar on me," snarled the
Sergeant, who had a vague acquaintance with the
classics. " Your gun ; where is it ? "
" I have no gun, caybigan."
The Sergeant drew his revolver, and brutally he
jammed the handle into the mouth of the prostrate
man with a sharp twist that sent the pointed stock up
against the palate, jerking the lower jaw down in
distorted gap. " Water," he said shortly.
One of the men with whom Pedro had been talking
brought a hollow bamboo full of water. Holding it
above the prone figure he tilted it carefully. A silvery
cascade poured down; it struck the distended nos
trils in diamond rebound, streamed into the cavities
at each side of the clamped revolver. Immediately
Pedro was clutched by an agonising sensation of
drowning. He gasped, gurgled; his knees, as if
automatically, snapped up to his chin. And the water
came down, calmly, steadily, in pretty silver flow,
while he drowned, drowned, drowned.
" Wait a moment," said the Sergeant. The man
with the tube gave it a slight tilt, the flow ceased.
Slowly Pedro emerged from the torturing sensa-
tion; an immense weakness dissolved his bones; he
" Your gun," snarled the Sergeant, shaking him
But Pedro, limp, eyes closed, waited for a little
" Your gun," thundered the Sergeant.
And Pedro opened his eyes with a long sigh, like
a very sleepy child. " I have no gun, caybigan," he
said, very gently, very wearily.
They began again. The water slid down in silver
prettiness, splashed upon the face in diamond drops ;
and Pedro drowned. And each time when they
stopped, and he had regained strength, he smiled
gently at his caybigan and said, " I have no gun,
After a while fury rose like a red foam into the
brains of these men, mad with ceaseless, ineffectual
carnage, with bitter, unavailing toil, with the sense
of their impotence in this eternal war against a
vacuum. They threw themselves upon that limp, re
sistless body, shell of the impalpable soul uncon-
quered within. They beat and kicked and choked.
But Pedro, very weak, very tired, very broken, still
smiled gently and said, " I have no gun, caybigan."
Then from this orgy of violence Blount felt himself
slowly emerge, white of face, cold in sweat, stagger-
ing as if drunk. He snapped up Pedro into his arms
and laid him in the shade of a giant mango growing
out of the ruins of a crumbled wall near by. An im
mense discouragement, a poignant disgust made him
tremble as with bodily weariness. Down on one knee
he bent over Pedro. Pedro felt the warm breath like
a caress on his ear. " Caybigan," implored the
Sergeant ; " caybigan, amigo, friend, tell us, go on,
tell us where you keep that gun, tell it to me, for me,
for my sake."
Pedro opened his eyes, and they smiled, golden,
at the Sergeant.
" I have " he began.
" No, not that, not that," cried the Sergeant, in
frenzied fear of hearing again that answer which
maddened him, blurred his brain with red haze. " Tell
me, come, tell me ; whisper it, low, right there, in my
ear; come, caybigan."
" If I tell you, then will we be friends ? " asked
" Caybigan," said the Sergeant, " we have worked
together, eaten together, hunted together. We are
friends. I don t want to hurt you, sure I don t. Tell
me, tell me and I ll love you like a son like a little,
foolish son," he added with sudden access of
"Well," began Pedro; "the gun, it is "
But his eyes, fixed upon the Sergeant, froze sud
denly as if before an apparition. The Sergeant was
smiling, smiling the smile of yore, the unconscious
smile of contempt, fatal, invincible.
" Go on ; go on ! " whispered the Sergeant breath
" I have no gun, caybigan," said Pedro monot
The Sergeant sprang to his feet, livid. " Come on,
fellows ! " he shouted ; " we ll hang him ! "
They got a rope, noosed it about Pedro s neck,
threw the loose end over a projecting branch of the
mango and, standing him upon a box, secured it.
In that position they left him for five minutes, to
let Fear seep into his stubborn heart. Every minute,
in cold, tense accents, the Sergeant asked, " Where is
Pedro did not answer. He stood there, very still,
calling to himself all the strength left in his miser
able racked body, composing himself as for some
great and splendid sacrament. Then, as for the fifth
time the question was asked, his right arm shot up
towards the mountains, dark in the distance.
" Malvar is over there with ten thousand men," he
shouted with high, clear voice. " Viva Malvar ; the
Americans are sons of curs ! "
Somebody kicked the box.
But as, the whole earth lurching beneath him, he
plunged into the Infinite abyss, he took with him a
wild, tumultuous, and exquisite joy. For at his last
words of defiance, upon the face of his golden-
haired caybigan he had seen fluttering uncertain at
first like the heralding colours of the dawn, then
glowing clear, certain, resplendent the expression
he had caught at the lone cuartel in the bosque, the
look of esteem, of admiration, full, unreserved, com
plete, for which he had thirsted so agonizingly, and
which now at last had come to him, his beyond the
power of Man to take away, at the paltry price of
treachery and torture and death.
THE CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO
1 HIS is to explain how young Theodore Pinney,
after his meteoric debut in the P. I. constabulary
consisting in nothing less than the capture of Papa
Gato, fierce bandelero, who for years had terrorised
the region of the Taal squatted into a fat civilian
job and forsook all dreams of glory. And it s not at
all about young Pinney, but mostly about his mother,
" The widow ;" by that short, somewhat ominous
and not too respectful cognomen she was known by all
the bureau the educational, of course from super
intendent to lowest clerk; and throughout the archi
pelago by men departmental and non-departmental.
This name, based on fact, like most things based
on fact, was a lying thing. Close your eyes
and say " widow " ; the vision is of something subtle,
arch and tantalising lustrous eyes, comely form
(somewhat pudgy), kittenish ways. But she was
long and lean and angular; her bosom was arid
and her tongue triple- forked. "Old-maid" would
CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 227
have expressed her infinitely better; but there was
the fact, the stubborn fact, which manifested itself
with slight provocation by a grim tightening of
the thin lips, and the phrase proverbial now
throughout the P. I. s " Mr. Pinney, well, the less
said about him the better. He was a handsome man,
but he was a wicked man " the " handsome " being
pronounced with a rising inflection, and the antithetic
adjective with a drop into tenebrous basso-prof undo.
Of Pinney pere this is all we ever knew, although in
departmental circles he was a subject fertile of de
licious speculation. That to be wicked he had had
ample temptation, knowing the widow, we cheerfully
granted; but what chance he ever had had to suc
cumb, knowing the widow, we could not imagine. Of
Pinney fils we knew still less, nothing at all, in fact,
what little there was being the property of the postal
authorities and consisting of records of money orders
sent monthly by the widow to a well known western
college town. But of the widow herself, good Lord,
we knew only too much.
For she was a terror and a pest. From the day she
placed her number tens upon Philippine soil the
islands knew no peace. The educational department
became a nightmare, and clamour filled all the others.
She had a passion for " little trips " and her will
was adamant and her tongue a visitation. They all
knew her. Her appearance at the Civil Hospital her
alded the disappearance of the resident chief. " Give
her what she wants, anything she wants," he yelled
at his clerk, as he exited. And when she sallied out
for fresh conquest she held under her arm a certificate
of ill-health. At the educational bureau the superin
tendent saw her coming. Out he sprang, through door
or window. " Give her what she wants," his parting
wail floated to the clerk. And so, with a glance at
the medical certificate, and a few timid questions as a
matter of form, he made out Document No. II sick-
leave on full pay. A few minutes later the major of
the army transport service found the outer world
urgently calling, and as he dodged the widow on the
stairway, " My clerk, madam, has orders to give you
what you wish," he murmured, tense with an immense
hurry. And the clerk provided ; and a few days later
the widow wandered aboard some inter-island trans
port, made law to the quartermaster, terrorised the
steward, possessed herself of the best cabin, anchored
her chair in the most desirable deck space and off
she sailed on one of her adorable little voyages.
From Aparri to Bohol, through Vigan, Ilo-Ilo, Cebu,
Dumaguete, and Zamboangua, she was known, her
clamour had resounded, for transportation, for com
missary privileges, for bull-carts, cargadores, and
CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 229
One day, though, she decided to settle down.
She caught the superintendent at his desk and
asked him for a provincial post. The superintendent
saw his main chance staring him in the face. He was
an intelligent and discreet man, so he did not decide
hastily. For a whole afternoon he pored diligently
over a map of the archipelago. Finally he settled on
Taal, in the volcanic region of Luzon. It was just
at the end of the dry season; he calculated that she
could just get there. Then the rains would begin
and the roads were without bottom. Besides, there
was Papa Gato ambuscaded somewhere upon the
flanks of the great volcano surmounting the pueblo.
Many things can happen in six months. The superin
tendent was not an imaginative man ; but that day
he certainly smiled to visions.
So, with a last array of reclamas transporta
tion, carts, provisions, military escorts the widow,
her worldly goods upon a carabao-drawn carro, her
self in a shaky quilesa, set out toward her Palestine.
And the rains began and shut her off behind their
From her isolation, after a while, news began to
filter, vague, insufficient, broken, like the irritating
snatches of a telegraph line out of order; first the
regular official reports, secondly popular rumour.
She had evidently taken hold. The monthly reports
showed the school attendance of Taal rising by leaps
and bounds to astonishing totals. Rumour, however,
corrected in some degree the superintendent s satis
faction. It appeared that this remarkable increase
was largely due to her personal herding of batas with
the aid of a big baston. Once, it seemed, she made a
regrettable slip, took one of the leading citizens
of the pueblo for a little boy, and, he proving recalci
trant, cracked his crown with her persuader ere she
had discovered her mistake. This caused some trouble
to the central office, but, as the superintendent re
marked to the Secretary of Education, " One cannot
make omelettes without breaking eggs, and he (the
leading citizen, evidently) was a bad one, anyway."
Pompously couched recriminations, also, came from
the Taal municipality. It was claimed that she had
taken upon herself the collection of taxes, that she
levied thereon five per cent, for school purposes, that
she had deposed the treasurer and had appointed one
of her own, who happened to be her muchacho, so that
the books and funds were securely locked up in her
stout camphor-wood chest. But as the town officials
were suspected of sundry peculations, the new system
was regarded as somewhat of an improvement. Be
sides, at that time she was absolutely invaluable with
a contribution to The Philippine Teacher (the super
intendent s special hobby) upon the " Model Nipa
CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 231
Home," an article embellished with diagrams and ele
vations and cross-sections. A few weeks later, it is
true, there came from Mr. Rued, a constabulary sec
ond-class inspector, stationed in Taal, a most virulent
protest about the burning of some two hundred shacks
that happened to conform only too distantly with the
ideal " Model Nipa Home." Mr. Rued, being a mild
man, thought this method of civic improvement too
strenuous. With this, his chief in Manila thoroughly
agreed, and, leaving him full discretion as to meth
ods, ordered him to take all necessary measures
which command, mysteriously enough, remained for
ever without answer.
It was just about this time that Papa Gato, living
in idyllic ease in his impenetrable bosques up the sides
of the Taal, began to feel that vague but imperious
self -dissatisfaction which is the peculiar appanage
of us unfortunate humans the inward command to
work. The Mexican pesos of his last raid were be
coming deplorably few, his store of palay was low,
and the contributions of the villagers spoke of fail
ing memories. It was time for another raid.
But this time, with his more earthy preoccupa
tions there mingled blue-hazed dreams. Gato, in spite
of a real practical genius, often proven by the in
genuity of his methods of extracting from recalci
trants information as to the whereabouts of their hid-
den wealth, Papa Gato was sentimental. Even before
the revolution, whose impassioned call had led him
into a mode of life from which he had never been able
to free himself, even when a humble cochero in Ma
nila, he had been a dreamer. And now, Pope spiritu
ally this for the benefit of the rural population, but
treated by his own camp followers with large, Ameri
can-imported winks king administratively, Marescal
de Campo militarily, this deplorable trait was still
with him. The life of an outlaw, even in the Philip
pines, has its disadvantages. Gate s particular disad
vantage, which he now set himself to nullify, was
this : he had never seen an American woman. He had
never seen one of those golden-haired maestras, which
the American nation (with that inconsistency which
prompts them to shoot alternately and with equal
firmness, precision, and dispatch lead and book
learning into his people) sends to far pueblos like
angelic visitations. But there was one in Taal. He
had heard that she was wonderful (it speaks elo
quently of his sentimentalism that he had never sought
to find out in what she was wonderful ; his imagination
immediately made her so in the mode that he would
have her so stately, golden-haired and seraphic).
So it was that Taal was chosen as the field of his
With his usual courteous foresight, he sent into
CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 233
the town an announcement of his intention to capture
the treasury and the maestra. This was his regular
mode of procedure, and not so fatuous as it may ap
pear. It had the double effect of warning his friends
he had many in all places and of paralysing his
enemies. This time, however, he was surprised with
an official answer from the municipal council, sitting
in executive session. This answer was three varas
long and redundant with rhetoric ; but reduced to
plain and precise English it might well be set down
" For God s sake, take her away, and you can have
the money, too."
This alacrity seemed to him highly suspicious, so,
with strategic cunning, he decided to hold camp with
his main force, and to send off his brigadier-general,
Gomez, with a force of two lieutenant-generals, five
colonels, ten majors, twenty captains, and a few lieu
tenants for the more facile work in Taal.
Thus it was that, soon after, the good people of
Taal were aroused at sun-up by a ragged burst of
musketry, a hullaballoo of yells and beating tom
toms, and the crackling of burning nipa. They were
prepared for such a contingency, however ; and when,
after this little preliminary demonstration, Gomez s
disreputables burst along the main street, they met a
reception that halted them in uneasy distrust.
For out of all the houses, humble balay or grand
casa, the populace was pouring holiday-decked, faces
shining with welcome man, woman, and child, tao
and distinguido, all ranks, all sexes, all ages. White
linen, shimmering jusis, diaphanous pinas united in
fiesta colouring. Peace and rejoicing, a mild, ecstatic
expectation, reigned upon all the faces ; the ninos and
nifias especially were full of a goatlike hilarity and
tumbled on the green amid the tulisanes, upsetting
majors and colonels indiscriminately. And could it
be was he blind ? no, it was true, indubitably true ;
before Gomez s eyes, in front of the Casa Popular
and spanning the main street, a graceful bamboo
arch of triumph rose against the pink dawn. And
across the top, in six-foot letters of bejuca, was the
To THE LIBERATOR OF THE PUEBLO THE INHAB
ITANTS OF GRATEFUL TAAL.
But out of the Casa Popular the municipal band
was emerging in joyful blare, and Gomez had just
time to compose himself into the pose of his new role
before he was greeted by the presidente, dressed in
church-day black, his head covered with the derby of
CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 235
ceremony. After a short exchange of courtesies, the
band wheeled, the presidente placed himself at its
head, Gomez at the head of his own troops, and presi
dente, band, tulisanes, and populace started down the
street. " To the maestra ! " shouted the presidente,
with a heroic gesture. " To the maestra ! " echoed
Gomez. " To the maestra ! " roared the tulisanes.
" To the maestra ! " yelled the populace, squeaked
the women, piped the ninos and ninas. And pell-mell
they flowed beneath the arch.
Before the original Model Nipa Home the band
halted and with an ominous snort came to silence.
A hush fell over the assembled multitude. One of the
shutters of the Model Home slid back ; a lean, yellow
arm, at the end of which dangled a steaming coffee
pot, pushed out of the opening. Suddenly the coffee
pot parabolaed through the air and landed upon the
presidente s ceremonial derby.
" Caramba ! " roared that official, suffocated and
scalded; and he beat a hasty retreat into the hoi-
polloi. The mysterious arm mysteriously disap
peared. Forming a cordon of lieutenants about the
Model Home, Gomez and three of his colonels mounted
the stairs and beat down the light bamboo door.
But behind the door stood the formidable widow.
Long and gaunt, in her morning wrapper, her be-
frilled nightcap askew upon her head, her horn
spectacles trembling with indignation at the end of
her aquiline nose, she confronted them, a figure of
righteous fury. Behind her was a well-constructed
pyramid of utensils, from which she drew with
promptness and discernment. In a jiffy the nearest
colonel was helmeted down to the chin with a big iron
kettle, the second was sneezing to death under a
stream of tabasco sauce, while Gomez himself was
retreating beneath the tom-tom din of an empty coal-
oil can, plied with vigorous repetition upon his
Right here, however, the widow was led off into a
common enough strategic mistake. Instead of turn
ing her victorious energy upon the vacillating troop
outside, she allowed herself to be hypnotised by the
already thoroughly conquered. At the head of the
stairs, pirouetting madly and roaring like a bull, was
the be-kettled colonel, and upon him she turned her
batteries. It was a wonderful exhibition. Things cul
inary flew through the air three saucepans, a roll
ing-pin, a grill, a teapot, a pile of tin plates. Then
came canned goods: tomatoes, pears, peaches; beef,
roast and corned; mutton, chicken, hare, pork, peas,
maize, string beans; jellies: apple, currant, lemon,
cherry; jams: apricot, peach, grape, plum, lychee.
Two hams and a small sack of flour came as an inter
regnum. Blind, deaf, helpless, the poor colonel
CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 237
swayed, doubled up, whirred, thrashed his arms be
neath the avalanche. Resonant whang-angs of his
headgear announced particularly brilliant shots ; dull
thuds more vital ones. At last, with a parting shower
of little potted cheeses, the widow s ammunition ran
out. She folded her arms, drew herself up to her full
height, and, her eyes shining humorously beneath her
shaggy brows, " Well, boys," she asked, " what is it
you want? "
Gomez was coming up the stairs again, under safe
" We are ladrones, madam," he explained, politely.
" We want we want " he stammered, uneasy,
before that great dominating figure. " We want
ah the dinero, the money " he stopped, then
with a vague apologetic shrug of his shoulders : " the
dinero, and you."
" Ah? " sang the widow, sardonically, " you want
me, do you ? "
Gomez hesitated. He was not at all sure about that.
But his orders were imperative.
" Papa Gato wants you," he said, with more
" Ah it s your papa wants me, is it? Very
well " her lips tightened into a line ominously
straight " he shall have me ; oh, yes, indeed ! "
Thus it was that an hour later the widow, erect
and tense in a carro drawn by a pacific carabao, sur
rounded by an escort of tulisanes with the grave and
preoccupied air of people bearing a case of dynamite,
followed by the holiday-decked populace and the de
lirious blare and roar of the band, passed along the
main street, by the Casa Popular, beneath the trium
phal arch, to the outskirts of the pueblo, and on
into the open country.
The band, marking time with the populace on the
edge of the town, which they were not to leave, was
playing " Hail the Deliverer, Hail ! "
Long and in detail will Major General Gomez re
member (he has now ample leisure for such exercises
of memory between the four walls of a place called
Bilibid) that march back to camp. And his bringing
it to a successful termination will always stand as his
most serious claim to military glory.
It was not that the train was cumbersome. It con
sisted, in fact, only of three carros, the first one
containing the widow, the second the camphor-wood
chest, inside of which was the town treasury, and the
third, Mr. Rued, second-class inspector Philippine
constabulary a roaring mad inspector, it might be
added, and tied up like a sausage. He had been sur-
CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 239
prised in bed; the ignominy of his taking was deep
in his soul, and found vent in a stream of expressions
Biblical and strenuous and not at all complimentary
to his captors.
No, the widow was the matter.
It was that curious performance of Mr. Rued
which caused the first outbreak. After listening med
itatively for some ten minutes, the widow sud
denly realised that here was something highly im
" Colonel," she cried, rising in her cart like a
jack-in-the-box, "you will please place more dis
tance between me and that blasphemous person
There was a pause in the procession. New intervals
were tried. But the widow s carabao was slow, and
the inspector s, possibly impressed by the fervent solil
oquy going on behind him, persisted in coming up
" Captain, I refuse to continue under the present
conditions," ultimatumed the widow. And, springing
out of her cart, she squatted resolutely in the centre
of the road and refused to budge.
A happy inspiration came to Gomez. He appealed
to the inspector s chivalry.
The inspector was cooling a bit by this time, and
he was a man of some intelligence.
" You cut that rope that holds me like a chicken,"
he said, " and I ll parleyvoo."
Gomez cut the rope, and the inspector agreed to
keep his feelings unexpressed.
The procession moved on. The carabaos laboured,
the carros creaked and groaned and wailed. The sun
mounted, more biting every moment. The ladrones
lit cigarettes and shuffled along the road. The widow
A more pronounced lurch of her cart suddenly
awakened her, and again her clamour was resounding
in the heated silence.
Again it was the unlucky inspector. His cart had
crept up little by little, till close to the widow s, and
her eyes had opened upon the fact that he was not
properly clad. Now, such a thing at times is excusa
ble. It isn t your fault if a band of pestiferous
ladrones pounce upon you in the morning and whisk
you out in your pajamas.
" Sergeant," shrilled the widow (with concern
Gomez noticed that each time she addressed him it
was with a diminution of title) . " Sergeant, dress
that man ! "
Gomez demurred. Again the widow sprang from
her cart and sat in the road. Again the train was
" I will not budge till you have clothed that man,"
CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO
the widow declared. " I insist upon a pair of
There was a hurried questioning of the band, a
general denegation, and Gomez returned, discour
" Senora, no hay pantalones," he announced.
" Give him one of your own men s," she com
Again the troop, drawn up in line, was ques
tioned, but still more vehement were the denega-
tions. It was not that they needed them so much for
covering, those precious pantaloons; they were full
of holes and covered little; but they were all more
or less be-striped, and the men very properly re
fused to part with their insignia of rank. The in
spector, also, was interested. After a careful inspec
tion, a horror at the thought of placing against his
skin such garments as were displayed before him
made his hair rise on end. Diplomatically he sug
gested to the widow that a transfer would only add
to the shame of the situation, for it would leave one
of the ladrones with nothing on at all, while he, at
But he had pronounced his own doom. " I ll fix
you," said the widow briefly. Untying the bundle of
clothes she carried, she drew out a skirt, a short khaki
walking-skirt, and after an insufficient smoothing
of creases with the palm of her hand, she threw it at
Gomez. " Put that on him, my man," she said.
But the inspector protested. He, too, got down
from his cart and squatted upon the road. And there
they sat in the middle of the road, each behind his
cart, the military man and the school-teacher, in a
grim, silent battle of wills. And there was little hope
of either ever yielding, for, really, they were not
especially interested in the progress of the caravan.
Gomez was, and at length he lost patience. There
was a terrific struggle, twenty colonels bit the dust
beneath the sledge-hammering of the desperate in
spector s fist; but numbers prevailed at last, and
again Mr. Rued was in his cart, trussed up like a
pig for the market, and, flaccid about his legs, the
unspeakable garment. But his cart had to be left
far in the rear, for he evidently considered himself
released from his former promise.
And the procession moved on. There were minor
obstacles. Once, the widow lost her glove and the
command had to scatter back upon the road for a
full half-hour of microscopic search till she found
that it had miraculously caught on the axle of her
cart. At the barrio where they stopped for the mid
day rest, she sent back six distinct messes of eggs to
the presidente s kitchen and finally invaded it her
self, till the muchachos, beneath the severity of her
CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 243
eyes, had evolved some turnovers satisfactory to her
esthetic soul. And little by little, her bitter will was
imposing itself more heavily upon the column.
Colonels became muchachos and generals valets.
When they stopped that night at Talisay, the best
house of the pueblo was placed at her disposal; the
presidente hustled at her orders, the kitchen was in
panic, the household terrorised. Somewhat softened
by her undeniable success, she sent for the inspector,
who was brought to her, betrussed and beskirted.
The long ride in the sun with his elbows together upon
his spine had weakened him somewhat, and his re
monstrances had sunk to unintelligible mumblings.
Graciously she cut off his cords, and as he stood
swaying before her, " Well," she said ; " aren t you
ashamed of yourself, young man? Think of your
mother; how would she have felt had she heard you
a while ago "
A last spark of defiance flared in the indomitable
man. " My mother wasn t an old-maid she-cat," he
muttered. But instinctively, in spite of his courage,
his voice had sunk too low to be heard.
" I have a son," began the widow, again.
" jj c "
" Lordie, but I d like to see the little nincompoop ! "
said the inspector.
But the widow was unshakable in her good humour.
She ordered a room prepared for Mr. Rued, and
later sent him a cup of tea of her own brew, which
he promptly threw into the face of the astonished
They started again at sun-up. They left the road
and filed along a narrow and steep trail. The widow
insisted upon a chaise. One was improvised out of
bamboo; and thus, as the shadows of night crept up
the flanks of Taal, she made her triumphal entry into
camp upon the shoulders of the four strongest
Papa Gato had watched the procession winding
up to him through the high fern, but as it neared a
sudden timidity sent him back to his hut. Gomez
found him there, in great indecision, alternately
twirling his little moustache and rearranging upon
his breast the seventeen medals he had decreed upon
himself for extraordinary valour.
" Greetings ! " he said, with a forced air of de
cision. " Have you been successful? "
Gomez took off his sombrero and mopped his
brow. " I have her and the dinero and a con
stabulary inspector," he answered evasively.
" And she is here ! " whispered Gato with emotion.
" I suppose I should go greet her."
" Sure ! " said Gomez detachedly ; " go on to her ;
I am tired, I ll wait here."
CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 245
And throwing himself upon the cot, he turned his
face to the wall.
But as his chief left the cabin, he sprang up like
one possessed, rushed to the door and peered ma
Indistinct in the gloaming, a feminine form could
be descried, regally erect, upon the high-borne chaise.
Gato approached with beating heart.
" Do not fear, senorita ; we shall not harm you,"
he said softly. " You are our guest ; the house is
He was very near now.
" The house is yours, and "
There was a sudden movement of the enigmatic
figure upon the chaise. A furious slap sent his
sombrero whirling to the ground.
"You boorish little boy, you," rasped the voice
of the widow ; " you little brute ! What do you mean,
what do you mean by standing with your hat on,
before an American lady ! "
" Gomez," said Papa Gato disconsolately ; " Go
mez, I can t stand it any longer ! "
This was in the commandante s hut, during the
burning hours of the siesta, and ten days after the
arrival of the widow. Gato and Gomez were lying
stomachs down upon a petate in attitudes of limp
" It s pretty bad," murmured Gomez meditatively.
" We re up against it," went on Gato (all this
took place in Tagalog, but is translated into equiva
" We sure are," echoed Gomez sombrely.
There was a long, pained silence.
" Gomez," whined Gato, " I haven t a pulgada of
authority left ! "
"You certainly haven t," said Gomez, a certain
appreciation brightening his manner.
" And you have less ! " went on Gato.
" The she-cat ! " spit out Gomez, all appreciation
" She bosses the camp ! "
" She sure does."
" We have to eat at tables now."
" And say grace."
" With our faces in our plates."
" We have school every day," went on Gato, sink
ing deeper and deeper into despair.
" Do we ; well, I guess ! c Do you ssee dde hhett ?
Yiss, I ssee dde hhett. How menny hhetts do you
ssee? I ssee ttin hhetts. Oh, look at de moon, she is
shining up there. I loof de name of Wash-ing-ton,
CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 247
I loof my coon-tree, too ah, it makes me sick ! "
And Gomez spit upon the ground.
" Gomez, Gomez ; we must do something ! "
" Go ahead " graciously.
" Gomez "hopefully" let s chop off her head ! "
" You can t " gloomily.
" Good Lord, Gomez ; don t you think, with my
best bolo, very well sharpened, if we hit hard, very
hard, that maybe "
" That s not it. Remember the speech she made to
us the first day :
" Keep that in your heathen minds. I m an
American woman, an American woman, remember!
That means I am sacred, sacred ! If you harm me, if
you as much as touch one of my hairs "
" But she has only two or three, Gomez ! "
" Don t interrupt me * If you as much as touch
one of my hairs, you know what will happen. The
American soldiers will come after you. Not the
scouts, not the constabulary, but the American sol
diers. They will follow you like hounds, ten thou
sand, a hundred thousand of them, if necessary.
They will never let you rest. They will avenge me
well, you know the American soldier, my friends.
Don t get him mad. I am the American woman; I
am sacred ! "
" But, Gomez; do you think that is all true? "
"It is; I know."
" But, Gomez ; the Americans, they are not fools.
They can see. They must know that she is old like
my grandmother, that she is seven feet tall, that she
takes out her teeth at night, that "
" It doesn t matter ; she s an American woman."
" Ah, these Americans ; what a singular people ! "
A long contemplative silence.
" Gomez, Gomez " with sudden inspiration
" let s poison her ! "
" Now you re talking like a babe ; there s the same
" Oh ! " more silent despair.
" Gomez, let s take her back, back to Taal ! "
" Umph what do you think the Taal people
would do to us ? "
" Madre de Dios, Gomez, is there no way, none
" None I can see."
"Then let me die!"
But hope in human breast is indestructible. It
was Gomez who, after all, found the solution.
" We ll take her to some other town, some town
where she is not known, absolutely not known," he
proposed in rapt accents.
" Bagum-Bagum ! " exclaimed Gato, rising to his
feet ; " there s ten thousand pesos in the treasury ! "
CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 249
" We ll raid the town and leave her there ! "
" But say, there re some constabulary there ; do
you know how many ? "
" No, I don t know. But the constabulary inspector
" She s freed him, too ! " Gato flew from the im
mediate consideration of practical things to a bitter
recapitulation of wrongs. " He walks around the
camp as if he owned it. And she gave him my best
pantaloons, those with the gold stripes "
" Never mind," said Gomez soothingly ; " we ll
question him to-morrow."
So it was that, upon getting up, a little later than
usual, the next morning, the widow found the door
of her hut locked from the outside. As has already
appeared, the widow was a person of considerable
executive ability. She wasted no time in idle recrim
ination, but promptly kicked, through the nipa wall,
a hole out of which she emerged, fresh, vigorous, and
An interesting scene met her interrogative eye.
In the centre of the clearing a tripod had been con
structed out of three great pieces of green bamboo.
And even as she looked a man was tying a supple
liana to the apex, while another worker tied a slip
knot to the loose extremity. Then a little fire of twigs
was started beneath.
" Umph," grunted the widow ; " I wonder what
these heathen think they re going to cook."
She was not left guessing long. Out of one of the
Euts, again bound hand and foot, Mr. Rued was
being carried by six stalwarts. He was strangely
silent. And his face was pale and tense. He was
borne to the tripod; the loose end of the liana was
passed in a slip knot around his body, a little below
the waist, then one, two, three the carriers sud
denly let go, and the inspector, dangling at the end
of the liana, swung neatly, head downward, over the
Papa Gato sauntered up close, " And now, will
you tell us how many men there are in Bagum-Ba-
gum ? " he asked suavely.
The inspector did not answer. His face was very
red and his jaws were very salient. A few dry twigs
were placed upon the fire, which sprang up, crack
ling. There was a faint smell of burning hair.
Something like a beskirted cyclone whirred into
the circle. Biff bang; two kicks scattered the little
fire to the four winds. Zip the liana was cut with
a big jackknife, and the widow, gurgling and chok
ing, was bending over the luckless Mr. Rued. " You
poor dear," she gulped ; " you poor baby " and she
CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 251
pressed him to her arid bosom. " Here, water, you
heathen, water ! "
But the inspector, very much alive, was struggling
to get loose ; and her glance, falling upon Papa Gato,
watching the strange performance with wonder-
dilated eyes, suddenly changed the nature of her
emotion. " You devil ! " she shrieked, and she sprang
to her feet ; " You fiend I " and she started toward
To Papa Gato s eternal credit be it said that
he held his ground for several distinct seconds. But
the vision of vengeance bearing down upon him was
more than mortal man could bear. He broke one step,
hesitated, then all his courage oozing out of him
suddenly, he turned deliberately and ran. Once
around the clearing he loped, the sound of flapping
skirts ominous in his ears ; then a second time, for
the widow had picked up a stick, and with mechanical
precision it was rising and falling only a few inches
behind his head; a third lap he began, and by that
time all the dogs of the camp had joined the chase
in tumultuous glee. And it was a strange sight, up
in that lonely clearing, surrounded on all sides by
an impenetrable and poisonous vegetation, beneath
the shadow of Taal, brooding and sinister with its
black banner of vapours, in the hollow silence of high
altitudes, that man running in sober earnest, with
an immense concentration of his simple purpose, and
behind him that incredible woman, flashing-eyed,
hook-nosed, her garments to the wind, seemingly
gliding over the high grass, a gigantic and fearful
witch, riding a broomstick. In the centre, from a few
dying embers, a little smoke rose, and about that
were grouped the tulisanes, in frozen attitudes, like
a bronze bas-relief, and they looked at their running
chief, at the pursuing woman, without a gesture,
without a cry, without the single flapping of an eye
lid. And behind the nightmare couple ran the dogs,
the curs of the camp, snarling and laughing and
gurgling like a pack of hyenas.
To this preoccupation of man and dog may be
ascribed the ensuing catastrophe. For suddenly,
close, so close that the vibration of it could be felt,
but muffled in the impenetrability of the jungle, a
shot rang out. This was followed by a crepitating
volley ; a buzz of lead passed overhead. Silently, with
a minimum of movement, the ladrones, as if at a pre
conceived signal, slid across the clearing and into the
wilderness beyond. Just at that psychological mo
ment, the widow caught up with Gato. Calmly,
dexterously, as one spanks a child, she upset him,
face down, and resolutely sat upon him. Then, re
adjusting her skirts about her limbs and her
spectacles upon her nose, she grimly waited.
CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 253
Shouts came to her ears, a hewing and hacking of
bushes, a crackling of bamboo. Vague brown spots
appeared against the metallic green foliage ; they
massed, detached themselves and burst into the clear
ing a detachment of constabulary. At their head,
charging furiously, was a lieutenant, slender and
boyish, in accoutrement ridiculously new. He was en
joying himself immensely. A fine ardour was in his
face ; his cap was off, his hair streaming in the wind ;
he held a naked sword extended up and forward in
statuesque gesture. Across the clearing he came,
straight as a bee; his eyes flashing, his nostrils dis
tended, all athrill with military glory.
And suddenly he was nose to nose with the widow,
who had slowly risen and now confronted him ma
jestically, her foot upon the luckless Papa Gato. An
extraordinary change came over the young warrior.
His martial excitement, his keen zest, his bravado
collapsed; his sword dropped till its point touched
the ground; his flaming uniform took on cringing
" Mamma ! " he cried, a little wistfully.
" Boy," shouted the widow ; " boy, what are you
doing here ! Quick, give me this " she snatched the
sword from his hand " that also " she whisked
the revolver out of his holster. " Oh, that child, that
child," she wailed. Out in the jungle there were cries,
hollow and muffled in the crape of vegetation ; a few
shots rang, dull as if underground. Three or four
bullets whirred overhead.
" Down ! Down ! " cried the widow ; " down, boy "
and her iron claw sank into his shoulder, bearing
him down, and unresistingly he fell upon the luckless
Gato. " That s right, sit on him," the widow whis
pered hoarsely ; " and don t you move, don t you
budge. My God, if only I can get you out of
this " She turned toward the jungle, straight
to her full height, a strange, inflexible figure with
the sabre in her right hand, the revolver in her left,
a heroic figure, really, keeping guard there upon her
boy, her son, her baby, her treasure in life; the object
upon which had flowed all her wealth of love, of ten
derness, leaving her, soul and body, arid and sterile
and bitter and awesome.
In the depths toward which she peered with
watchful eyes, a vague, mysterious tumult was taking
place, lost, devoured in the brooding silence about it.
It came in multitudinous attenuated noises, like a
ventriloquist performance; murmurs rose from the
ground at her feet, wails sighed overhead.
Her back to her son, tensely keeping guard, she
was questioning feverishly.
" Oh, why did you come ? How could you, how
could you! Without telling me. This country is not
CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 255
fit for you. And the constabulary! How could you,
how could you ! "
He answered her as well as he could. Really, he
would have preferred to be out there, with his men in
the jungle. But he was subjugated. The training of
his childhood had fallen back upon him like an un
shakable harness. So he remained, seated upon Papa
Gato, answering hysterical questions.
Really, it was a pretty bit of coincidence the
young man, suddenly boiling with desire to do, leav
ing his college, taking a commission in the Philippine
constabulary, arriving over the sea just in time to
learn of his mother s capture, begging for a place
in the rescuing party, then, in feverish impatience,
distancing with his detachment all the others
From the depths of the jungle, piercing above the
muffled tumult, there came a great, clear cry. Then
there was absolute silence. A fly buzzed about the
group. A squad of constabulary men, soiled, bloody,
and dishevelled, carrying a bound prisoner, broke
into the clearing. Another the affair was over.
The sword fell with a clang from the widow s hand ;
the revolver rolled after it; and then, stiffly, with
extraordinary dignity, she slowly fell into the arms
of her son. The widow had fainted.
But it was a weakness that was but momentary.
By the time that civilisation was reached, she was
again in possession of all her faculties. Thus it was
that young Pinney sat down, and, beneath the rigid
shadow of her dominating presence, filled out a blank
form of resignation for the benefit of the chief in
Manila ; and thus it is that he now catches flies in the
drowsy office of one of the " snap " departments,
while the widow spanks young hopefuls in the Manila
THE MANANGETE 1
FAR down the palm-lined road they appeared, near-
ing with perplexing rapidity. The head of my com
panion snapped forward and his eyes flamed. They
came in a file down the road, between the palm trees,
in the glowing tropic light, swinging along with
smooth, resistless progress. They seemed to glide;
the bamboo poles, balanced on their shoulders, slid
as if on invisible tracks laid above the ground, and
the tuba buckets at the ends were steady as if float
ing in the air. Soon they were near. The play of
their great thigh muscles became visible. They turned
the corner of the plaza with a new burst of speed,
and then they passed us in magnificent action. Down
their naked heels came in turn, pounding the ground ;
in one long, smooth sweep from waist to toe the legs
flashed back in a quivering of ropy sinew. Their
naked bronze busts glistening with sweat, and the
supple back muscles, giving at each step beneath the
iManangete is a Negros Visayan dialect word, denominat
ing the men who gather tuba. Tuba is the fermented sap of
the coconut palm, obtained by incisions made at the top of
bamboo poles, undulated liquidly beneath the golden
skin. Through the palm leaves covering the buckets
a slight froth played like silver lace. They passed
us in a flash of gleaming bronze; the creak of the
bamboo poles shrieked in our ears ; the pungent,
sulphurous odour of the tuba stung our nostrils, and
then they vanished in the kaleidoscopic colour-play
of the market.
My eyes fell upon my companion. He was lean
ing forward, his shrivelled legs collapsed beneath the
trunk, his whole weight upon his hands, his head
straining ahead like that of a bird in flight, and in
his eyes something strange and moving a soft, re
gretful gleam, yes God bless me, how strange it
seemed in that sullen, stolid cripple ! a look of long
ing, longing infinite.
From this day I watched him, watched him as the
tuba-carriers flashed into the pueblo, at high noon.
He was about forty years old, and above the waist
he was beautiful. From the belt the body shot up
ward, broadening like a Greek urn into a deep chest,
and wide, massive shoulders. Beneath the gleaming
terra-cotta skin the muscle played in elastic bundles
of power. His face was hatchet-carved, with a re
lentless jaw and eagle nose, and his straight black
hair was ennobled by a sprinkle of gray.
THE MANANGETE 259
But below the waist was ruin. He had been ham
strung. His legs were folded flaccidly beneath the
trunk, the calf against the thigh powerless things
which, as he dragged himself on his hands, trailed
limply behind as if some ignoble, useless attachment
of the great body above.
It was not often that he courted this humiliation.
Usually he was in his nipa hut in the coconuts, silent
and alone. But regularly, a little before noon, he
dragged himself to his station in front of the store
of Gong Ah Deam, merchant and usurer, and there,
leaning against the wall, he watched and waited for
the coming of the mafiangetes. There was something
tragic about the man, a singular dignity of woe, and
as he crouched there, that quality made him appear
as tall as those about him. He never spoke, and an
awe partly superstitious, I think kept a vacant
circle around him.
One day that man told me his story. He told it to
me in hoarse whispers, impelled by some torturing
desire to unburden himself, in front of the store of
Gong Ah Deam, there, awaiting the coming of the
" I was one of them, senor," he said, pointing with
his chin toward the far vista where the tuba-men
would presently appear ; " I was a manangete ; yes,
the strongest and fleetest of them. For five years I
was the leader of the file. They would challenge me
often at first. As we strained toward the far pueblo,
in turn each would move up and try to pass me, but
I only quickened a little as the man tugged at my
side, his breath whistling like the wind through the
coco trees, his legs stiffening till they cracked, till
finally he dropped back, gasping, to the foot of the
line, the tuba running down the sides of the bucket,
while another spurted up to wrest from me the
honour. After two years they ceased to challenge
me all except one. I was their acknowledged king
except by one. His name was Herrera. He was
small and light and stringy. He had no chance
against me. I could laugh and sing as he walked at
my elbow, agonising with the effort. Day after day,
as I raced proudly along, the long line behind me,
the bamboo pole springing lightly on my shoulder,
the tuba frothing in the buckets, I felt him start out
of his place; soon his hot breath was on my neck,
and out of the corner of my eye I saw his evil, yellow
face. I hummed and sang and cracked my muscle
with walking. And he hung on, I don t know how,
senor, he hung on mile after mile, till I thought he
would die. Then suddenly he reeled and sobbed, and
inch by inch I passed him, proudly smiling, while his
heart burst with bitterness. We rushed into the pu-
eblo, and as I, raising my head, spurted with new
speed, and each man, his eyes glued upon the back
ahead, strained to keep up, I knew that he was last
in the line, staggering blindly, his tuba spilling at
every step, a disgraceful spectacle. And to my ears
came the laughter of the women, pointing their fin
gers at him.
" They looked at me with longing eyes ; they
laughed at him. For I was strong and beautiful,
senor. Look at these arms they were a third bigger
then. And my thighs they are shrivelled and soft
now, like meat that has hung in the market too long
but they were like the trunk of the iron tree, strong
as the carabao s, fleet as the mountain deer s. And he
was small and dried, and his legs were bowed.
" Senor, I knew why he challenged me thus day
after day. He loved Constancia Torres. And I loved
" We had played together when children ; we were
youths and did not know it ; one day I saw her come
out of the bath and suddenly I was a man. Her drip
ping patadyon, wrapped high beneath her arm
pits, followed the curves of her body like a long
caress; above, her shoulders glowed like polished
gold, and over all there fell to her heels the glistening
glory of her black hair. And her eyes were deep as
the pools of the Cabancalan, and her voice was soft
as the sigh of the breeze through the sugar cane at
sundown, and I loved her, sefior.
" Of course I won her. I went to her father one
evening and asked for her and got her. She stood
aside while I spoke; a corner of her camisa had
slipped down from her left shoulder and the light
shone on the golden skin. She did not smile when her
father assented. Next day we were married by Padre
Marcelino, and she did not smile.
" But I did not care, senor. It seemed such a little
thing, her indifference, near my love. Senor, you have
seen the hot breath of the monsoon pass over the
land, day after day, month after month, till the
palms and the bamboo and the sugar cane all bend
its self-willed way. My love was the hot monsoon and
she was the bamboo wisp.
" I took her away to my new nipa-hut, under the
coconut palms. And I trembled to my own happiness
as the violin vibrates to its own music.
" I could not sleep those days, senor, I was so
happy. At sundown I climbed the tall coconut trees,
my bolo between my teeth. I hacked at the shoots
above and hung my buckets, and then slid down and
found her. We stood long at the window, senor, in
the night. The wind blew softly through the trees.
Beneath the leaves the stars shone upon our love,
and when the breeze ceased, so quiet was it, senor,
THE MANANGETE 263
that we could hear the gentle dripping of the tuba
in the buckets, above us in the sky. And we would
stay thus many hours of the night, senor, my arms
about her, her soft body against mine, and it was
only later that I remembered that all the caresses
came from me.
" Senor, I was so happy, that I forgot to hate.
The day after my marriage I let Herrera lead into
the pueblo. The next day he was not in line, nor
ever after. Senor, the man who forgets to hate is
" All about me there was a rippling of evil laugh
ter, and winkings and signs and tappings of fingers
on foreheads. And I was blind.
" One afternoon, late, as I was coming back to my
hut, my empty buckets swinging on the pole,
my eyes fixed upon the little nipa-roof already show
ing through the trees, and hunger of love in my
heart, I tripped against a liana across the path.
There was a whirr of pliable bamboo and something
sharp whistled through the air and struck me there,
behind the knee, with the sound of the butcher s
cleaver cutting meat. I fell, and my legs were as
they are now. Senor, you have fought in the war;
you know the bamboo-trap. A bamboo-trap had been
laid for me.
" My legs were gone, but something terrible
whispered in my heart that I should be home. And I
was there almost as quick as if I had been still a
man, and not a worm.
" Senor, the house was deserted. As I crawled
about like a dog smelling tracks, there was not a
trace of the woman I loved.
" Then all that my eyes had refused to see, all
that my ears had refused to hear poured into me in
a black tide. I knew why the pueblo had laughed.
And throwing myself on my back I shivered all night
with pain and lust to kill. "
The man suddenly leaned forward and his eyes
flamed. The manangetes were rushing into the town.
Smoothly they glided around the plaza, and then they
passed us in a flash of gleaming bronze. The creak
ing of the bamboo poles shrieked in our ears, the
pungent sulphurous odour of the tuba bit our nostrils,
and long with a wistful look the cripple followed them
till they were lost in the palpitating colour-play of
Four miles from Cabancalan there is a lonely pile
of rocks of evil repute. Heavy, cannon-like reports
come from it at times, and a sickening smell of sul
phur pinches the nostrils a quarter of a mile away.
I was passing the place at noon one day when I
THE MANANGETE 265
saw a man crawling queerly among the rocks. His
movements were so suspicious that I dismounted and
I gained fast and finally a full look as he passed
around a big boulder intensified my surprise. It was
the cripple of the pueblo, the old manangete.
He was labouring heavily, dragging himself on
his hands, his big chest wet with perspiration, and
a glint of baneful determination in his eye. After
a dolorous scramble through putrescent vegetation
and leprous rocks, he slid down a little ravine into
a cup-like depression bare of plant life except at the
farther end, where a gigantic banyan embraced the
earth with its huge tentacle roots.
He crawled to the middle of the clearing, and then
he stopped, on his hands and knees, looking at some
thing on the ground which I could not see. I waited
for half an hour, but he remained thus in this strange
posture and I silently crawled back and away.
The next morning, early, I was back at the place.
I slid down the little ravine into the cup-like depres
sion. It was deserted. A white object on the ground
caught my eye. It was a human skull.
It was a human skull, white and polished with age.
And its lower jaw was twisted in a most abominable
I touched the thing to roll it over. It was fast. I
felt beneath. The sharp, saw-like edge of vertebrae
rasped my fingers. I dug the earth beneath. The
vertebrae extended downward for a few inches and
then the smooth collar bones crossed them at right
I understood. An entire skeleton was there, buried
upright to the neck. I thought I understood also the
I did not want to see any more; but as I turned
away a whiteness among the octopus-like tentacles
of the banyan compelled me.
I took a few steps and stood before a skeleton. It
was tied upright to the banyan roots by an iron
chain, corroded with rust. There was no flesh on the
thing, but a stream of heavy black hair cascaded
down from the skull to the heels, undulating in and
out of the ribs.
One more thing I noticed. The hollow eyes of the
skeleton among the banyan roots were focused upon
the centre of the clearing. In the centre of the clear
ing was the skull of the horrible grin, and its staring
orbits were turned upon the roots of the banyan tree.
For a moment I was too cold to climb out of the
place. Yet when I succeeded my body was wet with
i HE coconut palms rose straight to heaven, bend
ing pliably to the western breeze; their heads tapped
gently against each other and a murmur of secrets
sighed overhead. From the shifting shreds of sky
the sun fell upon the sands in heavy gold spots. To
the east, through the lithe, silver trunks, the vivid
green of the rice fields flashed; to the west a tawny
thread of beach banked up the rippling tide.
In the darkness of the recess a frail hut of nipa
leaves and bamboo slowly shaped itself as I advanced,
and suddenly a shrill voice, rasping as the violin
note of the tyro, pierced the peace of the place. In
the doorway, at the head of the cane ladder, old
Marietta was gesticulating.
" Oh, seiior," she called asthmatically ; " pray
come in ; visit your humble servant. The house is
yours, the tuba is fresh, and coconuts are in the
" Not to-day, Marietta ; not to-day," I called back,
" I m going on to Suay ; I can t stop."
She threw her arms up in consternation. " To
Suay, senor, to Suay? Jose-Maria! do you not see
the baguio coming? Soon it will be upon you, the
trees will bend, the coconuts will fall, and you will
die ! "
The typhoon of the Philippines is not to be dis
dained. A picture formed in my mind of falling trees,
rent bridges, melted roads. I stopped, hesitating,
looked up at the blue sky above, listened to the reg
ular breath of the wind. " Nonsense ! " I said, and
just then a sudden gust screeched overhead; the coco
nuts bent in half circles, snapped back, bent again
with weird elasticity. Before my mind could fairly
seize them, before the impression of them could be
more than hazy and faint as those of a dream, these
manifestations ceased. The wind fell dead, the trees
came back to equilibrium. A heavy torpor descended
upon the land.
" I ll come in, Marietta," I decided, " and you ll
tell me more of the Negritos in the hills."
She did not answer, but waited for me at the head
of the bamboo ladder a weird, dried-up mummy of
a woman, with teeth corroded by the betel-nut, and
eyes that flashed hard beneath the heavy, yellow folds
of the lids an old witch, fit for broomstick rides
and the nightmares of children. Inside, I sat down
upon the bench by the window while she squatted
upon the bamboo-strip floor, a big cheroot tied up
THE PAST 269
with hemp fibre in her mouth, a hollow coconut filled
with tuba at her side. But she did not speak. A
strange taciturnity was upon her; she sat there
speechless, motionless, like some monstrous idol, her
lids half-dropped over eyes that showed opaque and
" Well, Marietta," I said at length ; " what about
that coconut milk you promised me? "
" Oh, senor, pardon me, pardon your servant. Tis
the baguio. When I feel the baguio coming I forget ;
I think of other days."
She half rose, then sank again upon her heels, her
mind refusing to stay with the present.
" For there were other days, senor," she said
gently ; " ah, yes, far other days ! "
She rocked herself slowly to and fro, her face in
her hands. Outside, the heavy torpor was suddenly
torn by a shriek in the upper layers of air. A few
great drops pattered resoundingly upon the nipa
roof, then heat and silence reigned again, with the
torment of the woman s soul.
Curiously I looked upon the old crone. She sat
there rocking gently from side to side, her lips bub
bling in meaningless mutters. Then her yellow paw
crept down her arid bosom, fumbled beneath her
camisa, and reappeared with something in it that
flashed gold. She pressed it to her withered lips and
I saw that it was a locket pressed it to her withered
lips with a singular intensity of passion; pressed it
there again and again and that sudden flash of
something long gone, of a spark, dying, perhaps,
but which in that ruined body should have been long
dead, moved me with uneasiness, as if I were watching,
and a party to, a sacrilege.
But she dropped her hands upon her lap in a
gesture of infinite hopelessness and she began to
speak, to speak in a queer sing-song, a monotonous
chant, like some religious recital of her Malay an
cestors suddenly coming back to her through the
" Ah, he was beautiful, senor ; he was beautiful,
he was beautiful, he was beautiful! He was tall and
straight like the coco tree; his hair curled like the
waves upon the sand, and his eyes were deep and soft
like the pools of the Cabancalan. He came to me
from over the seas, senor; from far-away Spain. I
was standing on the beach, right over there. There
were many boat-loads of soldiers landing, and he
was on the foremost prao. It came straight to me,
foaming with eagerness, its wings spread out like
those of a butterfly, flying over the waves, and he
stood at the bow. His cap was in his hand ; the wind
blew his hair of gold into a halo like that of the
Christ of the Santa Iglesia ; the sun beat down upon
THE PAST 271
his white suit and he glistened like a god. Straight
for the spot where I stood, senor; straight as your
compass needle points to the north, the prao steered
from afar, and not a palm s breadth either way did
it turn as it foamed toward me. And when, heeling
over like a wounded bird, it grounded in the shallows,
and ten men jumped out into the water to carry him
ashore, he motioned them off, sprang himself into
the waves waist-deep, and impatiently, as a horse
paws, he forced his way toward me. Then a fear
entered my heart and I fled, fled back into the woods,
to my hut, and threw myself upon the floor panting,
panting and dreaming.
" I was not ugly, then, senor ; ah, no, I was not
ugly ; age and sorrow had not yet knotted me like
the roots of the banyan. I was Queen then, senor ; the
Queen of Beauty among my own people. At the pro
cession it was I that stood on a pedestal, clad in
gold and silk, the picture of the Mother of God. At
the bailes it was I that the young men sought, and
it was for me, senor, that Juan Perez had a knife
plunged between his shoulders, one dark night, long
ago. It was long ago, senor ; it was long ago.
" I was beautiful, senor, and I knew my beauty.
I was proud, proud of my dark eyes, of my golden
shoulders, of the hair that fell about me like a gar
ment to the ground when I unrolled it in the sun, after
the bath at the spring. I was loved, senor ; I was de
sired; my fame was all over Negros and had no
boundaries but the sea; but I, I loved no one; I
railed and scoffed at all ; I loved no one, till he came.
" Then, senor, railing and scoffing died upon my
lips ; all things hard and mean died within me, and
I felt my heart open, bloom, till it seemed my breast
would not hold it. Ah, those were happy days, senor ;
days of beauty. Then the sky was blue, the sun was
golden, the breeze was soft it was long ago, senor;
it was long ago. He was my sun, and the warmth and
the beauty of him entered my heart till it burst into
bloom like the purple moon-flower. We were of differ
ent race, but he taught me. He taught me, ah, many
things, but what are they, senor, what is anything,
compared to love? And he taught me to love. In the
evenings, after sundown, we roamed the groves to
gether, in the pale moonshine, and the sea shimmered
and the trees whispered, and in my ear was the music
of his voice, on my hand the caress of his hand ah,
senor, senor, why do these things stay with us ; why,
when they pass, do they not leave us, and not stay
and stay and stay and torment and torture, hooked to
our hearts with double barbs senor, you who know
so many things, can you tell me that?
" Listen, senor ! Over there, where the river goes
into the sea and the bamboos grow almost into the
sky, he built a little nipa house. And it was ours,
ours, all our own ; and it was there that we lived.
Lived, you understand ; it is true that some of his time
was passed elsewhere; he had the cuartel and his
soldiers, but it was here that he lived, for it was here
that he loved. Senor, in that little house by the side
of the sea, it was there that happiness dwelled, hap
piness such as there never had been, such as there
never will be. Senor, I was beautiful then now I
am old and dried ; I chew betel ; I drink tuba ; I spit.
But this is not all the work of years. I might have
grown old as the corn grows old golden-ripe, but
now, you see, I do not care. He taught me, then he
left me, and my heart fell back like a rock, aye, and
lower than he had found it.
" For, of course, he left me, sefior. I have learned
since it is the way you whites, you always leave.
He went back to his Spain. He was to return in a
year. The year passed and he did not come back.
Then another and another. It was many years before
he returned. The little hut in the bamboos by the river
sagged, drooped, rotted ; till there was left nothing
but the four big corner-posts of narra standing up
right, with between them a little mound upon which
the grass grew high, a little mound like a grave, the
grave of our love. I grew old with the waiting, the
longing ; my heart was all alone, all alone ; and when
he landed again, in the green dawn, one day, he did
not know the woman squatting on the beach, so near
that one of his soldiers pushed her away with his
foot to let him pass. He came not alone, sefior. With
him was a white woman, his wife, with eagle nose and
proud bearing and skin like the flesh of the coconut.
He did not allow his soldiers to carry her, but went
in himself, all booted, to the hips in the surf. His arm
went around her waist; but, senor, she only looked
that her dress would not touch the water. And I knew
within me that when he had forsaken me for her, love
" I did not die, senor, although I thought I would
as I sat there long after he had gone, sat there
through the biting of the midday sun till the poisoned
breath of the night blew into my face. I went back
to my hut and lived. I lived as others ; I married, I
bore children. These children have borne children;
their children have borne children. I lived, but I did
" And he, he also lived, and his wife had children.
He lived, but he did not love, senor.
" And thus year passed after year. I saw him little.
Once, at sundown, as I was crossing the plaza the
portals of his stone mansion clanged open and his
carriage rolled out. I saw them pass, he and his
wife, she straight and proud, he leaning forward a
THE PAST 275
little, as if tired, and as long as the carriage was
in sight I saw them, side by side, but both looking
straight ahead far, far ahead, as if seeking some
thing and not once at each other. And. he, he saw
me not at all.
" One night, senor, the baguio swept the land, as
it will to-day soon. There were shrieks all night, and
the sea-roar and the tree-roar filled the darkness.
" And, in the morning, senor, as the sun rose upon
the ruins of the night, there was noise and crying and
a moving to and fro among the people of the pueblo.
Squads of soldiers tramped about, taos beat the
bush, and bloodhounds sniffed the ground. People
whispered that the Commandante had left his house
in the evening and had not yet returned.
" They found him, senor, in the bamboos by the
river, midst the rotting remains of an old hut. One
of the big corner posts had fallen upon him, and he
lay there dead, stretched across the grass-grown
mound that looked like a grave.
" But I had found him first, senor. And in his
hand there was a locket, and in the locket there was
a wisp of hair. And the hair was not of his wife."
Marietta stopped. Her mouth twisted in a con
vulsive grimace and two glistening things ran down
the lines of her cheek.
And outside, with a long-drawn wail, the baguio
at length swooped down upon us. The hut shuddered
like a live thing, the trees clashed, the sea pounded
and hissed. But in the dark, silent, immovable, squat
ting in infinite lassitude of posture, Marietta wept,
wept over the past, the past with its irrevocable ruins,
the past, gone beyond recalling, beyond amendment,
but still with her, ever with her ? with its double-
LlTTLE Carnota Roa was dead, and they were
The father came first, bearing the coffin on his
shoulder. He was a manangete; that is, for a living
he climbed the coconut trees, hanging his buckets till
full of tuba sap and then carrying them, balanced
at the ends of a bamboo pole, seven miles to the pu
eblo, on the trot. This occupation had made him very
strong, so that now he bore the little box as if it were
a feather. It was a pretty coffin. On a frame of
bamboo sticks they had stretched a new patadyon,
bright red and yellow, and on this they had stuck
rosettes of white, pink, and blue tissue paper. It was
beautiful. The brother followed the father. He
carried a big shovel for the hole that had to be dug
over there, in the black ooze of the cemetery, amid
bones of men and carabaos. He wore a camisa, but
no pantaloons, for they were very poor. Behind the
brother came the mother. From her armpits a
flaming red patadyon fell to her naked feet, red
being the colour that must be worn for children and
Carnota being only six. In her left hand she carried
a big, black cotton umbrella; in her right hand she
carried a tallow candle. The tiny flame sputtered and
crackled in the stifling air and a thread of vapour
rose from it toward heaven, humble incense praying
to the Great God for the little soul ascending to
The forlorn procession, man with coffin, boy with
shovel, woman with candle, wound through the high
grass across the plaza. The passage of a ditch
caused some disorder. From the coffin, leaping across
on the man s shoulder, a pink-and-blue rosette fell.
The woman picked it up and they stopped while she
pinned it back with a bamboo thorn. During the
operation the candle dropped and went out. The
man laid the coffin down, scratched some matches
and finally relit it. Meanwhile the boy sat down on
the shovel. He was very small and the shovel was very
big. At last the man picked up the coffin, the boy
picked up the shovel, and they moved on to the
The church was closed, for the padres had been
driven out by the revolution two years before and had
never returned. So the coffin was laid on the ground
at the great barred doors, a naive little object beg
ging for a mite of the holy emanation that still clung
about the great building as some vague odour of
THE PREROGATIVE 279
incense. The mother let tallow drip upon the
frame, then stuck the candle upright into it. She
opened the big umbrella and set it down so that the
stinging sun-rays of noon should not shine through
the thin cloth of the coffin into the closed eyes of
Carnota. The man crouched down against the church
wall, the boy sat on the shovel, and the woman
squatted on her heels by her husband.
It was noon, and the perpendicular sun dripped
molten lead upon the land. The tin roof of the
church crackled, white with heat ; the tin roof of the
school crackled back to it; the heat, reverberated
from one to the other, fell into the space between,
and the pink-and-blue rosettes on the coffin shrunk
like sensitive things.
A big fly buzzed near and the woman wafted it
away. A little fly struck the candle and boiled to
death in the molten tallow. From a hole in the
church wall a big gee-kaw lizard uttered his hoarse,
spasmodic cry three times, then stopped, smothered
by the heat. Ten feet away a carabao plumped into
a mud hole with a cool, squashy sound. A heavy
silence fell upon the plaza, punctuated only by the
raucous breathing of a big American cavalry-horse,
dying of the surra by the cuartel.
The door of the school-house opened, and the
Maestro came out. Almost at the same time the
Lieutenant stepped out of the cuartel. He stopped
to look at the horse and the Maestro joined him.
The animal, a big gray, was. standing with his four
legs wide apart, like the tripod of a camera. His
ribs stood out like the ribs of a long-stranded dere
lict; his legs were puffed up as big as barrels, and
a viscous fluid oozed from his nostrils. A cloud
of flies buzzed about this already half-carrion
The Maestro looked into the patient, bulging,
"He wiU die? "he asked.
" Yes, they all die," said the officer,
" Why don t you have it shot? "
The officer smiled, a trifle embarrassed.
" Well," he said, " you know they re great on red-
tape in the army. If the horse dies naturally, the
post-surgeon can fill out a comparatively brief re
port ; if he orders it shot, he will have to write out
some five foolscap pages. The Doc., you know, is
pretty lazy ; so he chooses the short report-"
" I see," said the Maestro.
They separated. The forlorn group at the church
door drew a shrug of the shoulders from the officer.
The Maestro stopped and approached it.
The woman nudged the man with her elbow. " The
Maestro f " she whispered, awestruck.
THE PREROGATIVE 281
They scrambled to their feet and stood respect
fully before him. Their downcast eyes peered at him
half -anxious, half -wondering. For he was a strange
person, the Maestro. Carnota had often told about
The first day he had come to school he had been
very angry because, turning around upon the crash
of a chart, upset by one of the boys in a sly antic>
he had found all the index-fingers converging duti
fully upon the abashed culprit.
He was very queer* He did not like the boys to
tell on each other.
Every morning he made them go through violent
movements with their arms, their legs, their bodies ;
and they were very tired, for the palay crop had
failed and they had little in their stomachs.
But if he was queer at school, he was still more
queer at home.
One Saturday afternoon, Carnota, peering with
his brother into the Maestro s house, had retreated
suddenly, very much awed and astonished.
For the Maestro, in his shirt sleeves, was insanely
pounding away at a big, round ball that hung from
the ceiling by a string. He hit and hit and hit, and
the ball rebounded from his fist to the ceiling so fast
that it sounded like the escribiente beating a bandillo
upon his drum, only much louder.
The man and the woman stood before the Maestro,
thinking of these things. And he stood before them,
also thinking. He was before a result, and he won 1 -
dered if it was good.
He thought of the little boy. He saw him again
as he had seen him on his first day as Teacher of Ba-
langilang a little nino with a big round head sunk
in between sharp shoulders, and big brown eyes that
looked up into his own, half-scared, half -loving. He
was a very little boy, Carnota, and his peculiar un
certainty of movement made him still more babyish.
His face was dirty and his nose needed a handker
chief. His camisa was open in front, and the abdo
men projected over the trouser-band in a soft roll of
fat. Somehow that was what remained the most viv
idly in the Maestro s memory the vision of that roll
of baby-flesh that had suddenly filled his heart with
That was the day of the " my " and " your "
" Do you see the hat? " the Maestro had asked.
" Yiss, I ssee dde hhett," ataccattoed the class in
" My hat," said the Maestro, pointing to his cap ;
" your hat," he said, pointing to the reduced version
of a dilapidated nipa roof which served to cover Car-
THE PREROGATIVE 283
nota s head. "Now, [pointing to his own], do you
see my hat ? "
" Yiss, I sse my hett," answered the urchin con
" No, no," said the Maestro. " This is my hat, not
your hat ; it is my hat. Do you see my ha.t, my, my
" Yiss, I see my, my hhett," answered Carnota,
his eyes alight with sweet obedience.
The Maestro paused and wiped his brow with his
" Now, let us begin again," he went on with de
termination in his> eye. " My hat, your hat ; your
hat, my hat. This is my hat ; this is your hat. Now,
show me your hat."
" Your hat," said Carnota, pointing to his own,
" No, no, that is not my hat ; that is your hat ;
this is my hat, that is your hat. Now, show me my
hat, my hat."
" My hat, my hat ! " shouted Carnota, trium
phantly pointing to the Maestro s.
" Oh, Lordy," muttered the Maestro. He looked
down half -angrily. Two brown eyes and an uplifted
nose were turned up toward him in absolute, admiring
confidence, and his annoyance flew away as by en
chantment. But he could not bear to disillusion the
child with further elucidation, so it was many days
before Carnota ceased mixing his pronouns with
He forced his thoughts onward to later and less
First had come the cattle-pest, which had killed
all the carabaos ; then the surra, which had killed all
the horses; then the drought, just at palay-sowing,
baking the ground so hard that the wooden plows
made only derisive scratches. Now, it is true, the
cholera was coming down the coast to restore the
balance. But it should have come first. The palay
crop had failed and there was nothing to eat.
There had been little to eat for weeks, and the chil
dren had begun to droop and wither. Every morning
the Maestro cursed under his breath as he looked
upon his waning audience. He could do little more
than swear, for it would have taken a hundred times
his salary to feed them all, and half of that went
home religiously every month to a younger brother
who was playing end on the Yale team. So, not
being able to help them all, he had come to the de
termination to feed none. Which did not prevent
him from smuggling little Carnota into his house
every morning, to send him forth again with grains
of mush sticking to his nose.
But this did not stop Carnota s head from sink-
THE PREROGATIVE 285
ing daily deeper between his shoulders nor the pecu
liar uncertainty of movements to gain and gain on
him till, sometimes, when walking, he would fall sud
denly without cause, as if he had stepped into a
The attendance dropped and dropped, and the
Maestro did not like to look at his reports. At last,
one morning, Carnota himself failed to come to school.
He did not come the next day, nor the next. The
Maestro went to the tumble-down nipa shack by the
river, He found the boy lying on a mat, on the
bamboo floor. He could not move.
" Yiss, I ssee dde hhett," he murmured when the
Maestro asked him how he felt.
The Maestro went to see the Post-Surgeon. But
the Post-Surgeon had been in the Philippines four
years. That is, his ideal of life now was to slop about
his room all day in a kimona, smoking cigarette after
cigarette and drinking whiskey-and-soda after whis-
key-and-soda. To go out and see a sick child, espe
cially when that sick child happened to have a brown
skin, demanded an effort absolutely colossal for the
corroded shreds of his moral strength. It took sev
eral days of begging, remonstrance, appeal, almost
threats to galvanize the dead fibres. At last the Doc
tor slipped into a khaki and walked a hundred yards
with the Maestro to the hut by the river.
He examined the boy with a vague, returning ghost
of professional interest.
" Curvature of the spine," he said at length.
" No cure? " asked the Maestro.
" No, he ll die ; it may take several years."
" Will he suffer? "
The surgeon pointed to the child. The little body
was vibrating in exquisite torture and cold beads of
sweat were welling up on the stoical Malay face.
That night the Maestro went to the Post Hospital
and asked the steward for some morphine.
" The dose is " the steward started to say,
giving him the pellets.
" I know, I know," the Maestro broke out hastily.
" I ve used it often."
He did not know the dose, but he did not want to
He went back to Carnota. He found him with his
sharp knees pressed tight against his chin.
He gave him several pellets. He did not know what
was the proper dose, but he knew that this one was
surely a highly improper one, and that is all he
wanted to know.
The little boy had gone to sleep with a deep, rest
And now he was there, beneath the pink-and-blue
THE PREROGATIVE 287
The man and the woman were becoming uneasy
beneath the vacant-eyed scrutiny of the Maestro.
Finally the father stooped, wound his arms about the
coffin, and looked up questioningly into the Maestro s
" Yes," nodded the Maestro, " I will go with you."
The man heaved the coffin to his shoulder. The boy
took the shovel, the woman the candle, and they
started in a file. The Maestro followed and took the
shovel from the boy.
At the cemetery the father began to dig in the
black ooze, but the Maestro stopped him. He led
them to a little knoll close by beneath a giant mango
tree. The soil was dry there, and, taking off his
jacket, the Maestro toiled till a little hole was ready.
They lowered the paper-frilled box into it, then
they scraped back the earth. The father went into
the jungle and came back with a cross made of two
bamboo sticks. He planted the cross and the Maestro
placed a few stones about it.
Then they walked back to the pueblo.
" Are you very sad? " asked the Maestro of the
" Oho," she answered, " muy triste."
But she had not understood the question. She had
had nine children, and eight were buried. As far back
as she could remember Death had never let by a year
without entering her hut. She had long ceased
They came to the plaza. The old cavalry horse
was still standing as before, his swollen legs spread
in a wide base, his head dropped to the ground, his
patient, bulging eyes red with blood. His rattling,
dolorous breath, above the humming undertone of car
rion-flies, was the only break in the heated silence.
The Maestro looked at the animal. His chin
dropped to his chest.
He raised his head with a sharp movement and
" I have done well," he said.
IT was a mistake from the first. The post was not
at all for a woman, but Miss Terrill was unaware of
that. She had just come to Bacolod via San Fran
cisco, Manila, and Ilo-Ilo, by means, successively, of
a big white army transport full of other ingenuous
pedagogues ; a wheezy but impudent little Spanish
steamer, which aggressively shoved its nose under
every ripple of the inter-island seas ; a languid-sailed
lorcha, loaded with pigs, dogs, and brownies, and fin
ally a dizzy banca, which, perched upon the tip-foam
of a curling comber, outriggers spread out like wings,
landed her high up on a golden beach fresh, dainty,
and composed like a coloured album picture. So,
when out of the hat in which the Division Superin
tendent was thoughtfully shuffling little slips of
paper representing the towns of his terra incognita,
she drew the name of Barang, she took it as much of
a lark. Immediately she ran to a map, found the little
black dot down in the southern part of Negros, and
pronounced it " cute." She seemed prone, it must be
said, to take things that way. She was a very young
girl, so young that the officers of the Post raised their
eyebrows and muttered under their breaths when they
learned where she was going. A certain second lieu
tenant, Saunders by name, and very fresh from West
Point, went so far in fact as to offer to arrange it so
that she should stay in Bacolod, at least as long as he
were there, and afterwards any place where he
might be. But she laughed sweetly at this proffer,
and put it from her promptly and decisively, though
her blue eyes, at the young fellow s sudden show of
despair, shone a moment with a tenderness maternal
he called it afterward that somehow left him with
out bitterness and full of reverence.
Here it must be explained for future understand
ing that Rumour, a most vigorous Dame in the Philip
pines, forthwith pounced upon this little incident and
made off with it north and south. North the develop
ment of the tale was rapid indeed; by the time it
reached Escalante it dealt with the marriage of Miss
Terrill to the fat old colonel of the Post. South,
progress was more modest ; at Himamaylan and Can-
talacan, towns nearest to Barang, it gave merely
the news of the formal engagement of Miss Terrill
to Lieutenant Saunders. Which freak of Dame Ru
mour was precious indeed, in that it led to the com
plications that make this story.
THE CONFLUENCE 291
The affair of her assignment continued to be
much of a lark during the two weeks spent in Bacolod
awaiting transportation. It was still a lark when the
launch came and her trunk, in the loading, fell into
the surf and the hombres in charge of it kept dry
by the simple expedient of standing upon it. And
the long, hard trip in the launch, laden to the gun
wales with supplies for a military post still further
than her own town, also was a lark, although at sun
set the sky drew down in a black vault beneath which
the little steamer seemed very small and very lone,
and a wind arose which sent her plunging beneath
tons of swirling water, and later, when the sea had
calmed, the Tagal pilot got lost in the blinding
downpour of rain and ran her gently into a perpen
dicular wall from which they backed with a poignant
feeling that it was only the superstructure backing
thus away, that the bottom was still on the rock a
feeling which proved baseless, but which kept
them tense the night long, speaking in whispers and
treading the deck a-tiptoe. The world was still joy
ous when they crashed through a fish-corral and her
chair, caught by one of the poles, whisked her instan
taneously from bow to stern. But when they anchored
beyond the edge of a long reef, and the sun rose glar
ingly upon the shore, it must be admitted that her
heroic little heart sank a bit. On the other side of
the reef the waters ended in rippling purple shal
lows ; and then there emerged a low bank of mud a
livid yellow mud, flaccid and spongy, corroded with
trickly streams that ran ink. At the upper end of
this bank, flanked by four leafless leprous palms, there
rose a long building, askew upon its rotting piles,
with torn tin roof and shutters fallen outward. In
front, very white against the gray fa9ade, the blue
sky, the yellow mud, a pole sprang up with a faded
American flag wrapped dejectedly about its top. Em
bracing the bank, the two curved arms of a river came
down in slow gurgitation of liquid ooze between
screens of black-green vegetation.
" This is Himamaylan, little mother," said the
young lieutenant (he had fallen rather easily into the
relation imposed by her). "This is Himamaylan.
Wish it were your station; you ve twelve more miles
Now this thoughtful preference for Himamay
lan (seeing what Himamaylan was) hardly prom
ised for her own station. But she resolutely gulped
down a certain tightening of the throat. " How
jolly! " she said.
Saunders looked at her rather long. " What a dar
ling you are ! " he murmured. And the tone was
Which caused her to hurry her preparations for
THE CONFLUENCE 293
landing. A native standing to his knees in the mud,
after a good deal of vocalising from the lieutenant,
listlessly strolled to a decrepit banca, bottom up in
the shallows, flopped it over, baled it out with a coco
nut shell, tied up the shaky outriggers with bejuca,
and paddled leisurely, with an air of supreme indif
ference, to the counter of the launch. " I ll go ahead
and reconnoitre," said the lieutenant, springing into
it ; " it s only six, and Wilson (the American teacher
of the station) is probably not up yet." Miss Ter-
rill saw him paddled to the shore, saw him land and
go up the rude causeway. At each step the stone un
der him sank as in a jelly and his foot whisked out
in a spatter of mud ; at each step her heart followed
the stone in its sinking movement. He disappeared
into the great ruined building. She waited, it seemed
a long time. The padron of the launch began a
muttered discourse upon the sin of delay with an ebb
ing tide. The sun rose higher, poured its accusing
glare upon the squalor of the scene. The hombre in
the banca pulled his wide-brimmed straw hat over his
eyes, curled in the bow, and went to sleep. The mud
began to crawl with little black crabs. " Cheer up ! "
she said to herself in a crisp intonation, like the note
of a bird.
The Lieutenant reappeared at the head of a dozen
villainous duplicates of the man in the banca. He
paddled up. " All right," he said. " I have carga-
dores. Wilson will arrange things to get you to your
town. We ll land your stuff first; by that time he ll
One by one her boxes were thrown into the banca,
paddled ashore, and carried to the door of the big
building, the convento of the friars before the revo
lution had driven them out. Then very ceremoniously,
while the padron warned about further delay, Saun-
ders handed her into the little canoe, like a princess
into her gondola, out again on shore, and helped her
over the first and worst part of the causeway.
" I must go now," he said. " Wilson is waiting for
you at the door and that launch is beginning to
thump bottom. And please, once more; won t you
come back to Bacolod? "
She lifted her clear eyes to him and shook her head
gently. " But you are a dear good boy," she said.
To the subtle maternal tone of this, there was no
replying. He bowed low over her hand and turned
She started up right away. A great loneliness ex
haled itself from the land. She did not look behind,
but toiled stolidly toward the building.
Tied to one of the verandah posts, a native pony,
short-necked, compact, muscular, was pawing the
ground. She stopped and looked at it, gaining from
THE CONFLUENCE 295
it the first comfort received of things since her ar
rival. It was carefully groomed. The bay flanks
shone like silk ; the mane, parted, fell fluffily on each
side of the curved neck, the forelock dangling rogu
ishly between the eyes. Beneath the polished saddle
a red blanket added a touch of colour, almost of co
quetry. The little animal stood there like a protest
against the ambient discouragement.
But a white-garbed man was at the door. " Good-
morning, Mr. Wilson," she said gaily ; " what a nice
horse you have there ! "
" Good-morning, Miss Terrill," he answered, a
gleam of approval in his pale, tired eyes ; " but that s
not my horse. Mine well, it s like everything else
about here " and in a heavy gesture he passed his
hand over the musty landscape.
She met the owner upstairs.
He was a young man with slender waist and broad
shoulders. Leather-gaitered, buttoned to the chin in
khaki, a big Colt hanging to his loose belt, he gave
Miss Terrill an impression of elastic efficiency very
pleasing. But still more pleasing, she thought very
secretly, were his eyes, golden-brown, soft and rather
grave. He was horribly reticent though. He let Wil
son do the talking ; leaning against the window-sill,
he contented himself with short remarks dropped at
long intervals like the sudden toning of a deep bell,
and also with a consideration of her, serious and thor
ough like the pondering of a problem. It was some
thing entirely different from that to which she was
accustomed. She was not vain ; but still, she had often
seen herself, mirrored, as it were, in the eyes of men ;
and she knew that in her short khaki skirt, her long,
tawny leggins, her wide-collared blouse, her soft felt
hat beneath which her hair fluffed, light and golden
as sun-kissed vapour, she was well, picturesque at
least. But here was a judgment that reserved itself,
an admiration very much under check. His very
position as he stood there, his glances downward up
on her, gave him a subtle strategic superiority. It
was rather irritating; and when he bowed and ex
cused himself out of the room, her return salute was
stiff with a stiffness foreign to her sweet nature. But
immediately she found herself listening intently, ob
livious of Mr. Wilson, listening to the steps spring
ing down the stairs, stamping upon the flagging of
the court, stopping beneath the verandah. There was
a short silence, then a sudden clatter of hoofs. Un
consciously she was up and at the window and he
was gliding rapidly along the palm-lined road lead
ing away from the sea, erect in the saddle, his waist
giving flexibly to the pace of the pony.
" Oh," she ejaculated; " is he going away? "
" Yes," said Mr. Wilson ; " back to his station at
THE CONFLUENCE 297
Cantalacan. It s ten miles beyond yours. He ll ar
range things for you at Barang."
Then, strangely enough, the desolation of the sur
rounding landscape brusquely whelmed her again.
She felt very much alone with this Mr. Wilson,
with his stoop of the shoulders, his weary eyes, his
attitude of profound lassitude.
" I must start off for my station," she said de
Miss Terrill leaned at the window of her new home,
looking out into the dark of the plaza. She had put
out the lamp, the room behind her also was dark, and
between these two obscurities she felt rather lone.
At intervals alarmingly frequent her rallying cry,
" cheer up," chirped in the heated silence ; but diffi
cult it was for the spirit to obey the command of the
lips. She had gone through a great deal of late not
so much in actual hardship ; she could bear that buoy
antly ; but little by little the oppression of the Land
had heaped upon her and she felt a very little girl
indeed. Something akin to self -compassion filled her
being as she dwelled over the events of the past days :
the sudden and thorough inefficiency of Mr. Wilson
when it came to arranging for her departure ; the
long enervating wait for mythical carts, for carabaos
that did noc come ; then, after she had taken hold of
things and the evasive Presidente, suddenly alacri-
tous at the stamp of her foot, like a magician pro
duced animals and vehicles by the dozen, the long
ride to her station the bumping and creaking of the
ox-cart; the mud, the fearful bottomless mud; the
miring in the rice lands, beneath the leaden sun, in
the pestilential swamp; the miles paced slow as the
crawl of an hour-hand while time slid by and the day
died in gloomy splendour. And then the entry into
the pueblo at midnight, amid the howl of dogs, the
croak of frogs, the shrill concert of katydids ; the
dinner at the Presidente s, with this people of alien
race, of dark skins, of incomprehensible tongue; the
appalling lack of comfort, of cleanliness and then
the night : she would never forget it, that first night
in Barang. Her cot had been placed in a big bare
room. Through the torn roof she could see a lone star.
There was rice stored in the corner of the room, and
giant rats thundered over the loose planking, squealed
and fought, while outside in the scum of the ditches
the beasts of humidity shrilled in rasping clamour.
Then the arising in the morning, weary to death,
shrinking in fear at the thought of the first survey,
in the inexorable sunlight, of the place which was to
be her abode for twelve long months at least; and
that first look the wide, grass-dishevelled plaza with
THE CONFLUENCE 299
the carabaos wallowing in the mud holes, the ponies
dying of surra at their pickets, the leprous-walled,
crumbling church across, the thousand leaning, rot
ting nipa shacks, the musty mountains steaming in
Afterward she had had a pleasant surprise. A
house had been engaged for her, the Presidente an
nounced, by Don Francisco. She went right away to
view it. It stood facing the plaza, pointed-roofed,
post-elevated, between shimmering bananas, a new
nipa hut, clean and strong. The ground beneath was
white with powdered lime, a reassuring carbolicky
odour hovered about and she was pleased by the
chance for picturesque decoration offered by the rich,
nut-brown nipa of the interior. But while she stood
in the centre of the sala, planning, a muchacho in
immaculate camisa stood before her. " Don Fran
cisco has sent me to you ; I am to be your servant,"
he said in the precise English of one carefully in
structed. He proved a treasure, that boy. Then,
pieces of furniture began to arrive one by one. She
did not understand at first, but the owners, salaam
ing behind their sweating cargadores, explained that
they were to be hers during her stay. She offered
money ; they refused. Don Francisco had asked them
to do this; they were always glad to obey Don
This was the third time in as many minutes that
she had heard that name. When she was alone with
Vincente, the new muchacho, she asked, " Who is your
" You are to be my master," he answered in the
tone of one who knows well his lesson.
" But who was your master ; who sent you? "
" Don Francisco," he said.
" But who is Don Francisco? "
" Don Francisco ; the Maestro," he answered, evi
dently astonished at her obtuse ignorance.
But she divined now and her cheeks flushed. It was
the Maestro of Cantalacan. Wilson had introduced
him as Mr. Tillman. " Don Francisco " was much
better, she reflected.
She had set briskly to work at her installation. She
accepted a few pieces of the proffered furniture
quaint old hand-carved things of incredibly heavy
woods ; she performed wonders with boxes and chintz ;
Isio mats enlivened the meerschaum of walls and ceil
ing, the few pictures and flags left of her college
days were hung; red narra boards tied with golden
abaca along the walls made a place for her books ; a
big square severe table, with her blotters, pads, ink
stands, pens, and pencils upon it, took an aspect in
viting of studious hours. But when she rested and
looked about her for the subtle feeling of coziness
THE CONFLUENCE 301
and warmth which usually follows such toil, as it
must to the birds who have built their nest, she found
with consternation that it was not there the feeling
of intimacy, of home, was not there. She changed the
petates, she moved the pictures, she hung orchids at
the windows, arranged a panoply of native hats and
spears over the door, fringed the grass-cloth por
tieres. But it was useless. The feeling would not
come. And she realised that it would never come;
that all these efforts were puerilities before the great
crushing assertion of the land the grass-dishevelled
plaza, the ruined church, glistening in the white sun,
the palms, the steaming mountain, the brown popu
lations ; that before this tranquil, brooding, all-pow
erful Presence, all her little defenses of art and
adornment shrivelled, dried into dust as cardboard
toys in a furnace. It was like hiding behind leaves
She turned to her work with an enfevered zeal. She
found a tumble-down nipa shed where some twenty
half-naked, half-starved, miserable little beings,
herded every morning by the municipal police, gath
ered beneath the stick of a slovenly, dull-eyed man,
with a gibberish of English the native teacher ap
pointed temporarily by the military government.
The school supplies had not come yet ; there were no
charts, no books, no slates, no paper, no pencils. The
children squatted on the damp earth, crushed and
" Well, I can at least love them," she said to her
It was easy for her to love children. She loved
everything that was small babies, kittens, puppies,
birds ; and flowers : she called them baby -flowers
when they were satisfyingly little. She taught the
children trifles that did not amount to much; but
beneath the tenderness of her presence these starved
plants began to put forth blossoms. The dark eyes
opened in wonder, softened in reverence. One day
one of the little girls took her hand going home from
school; and after that she was always followed by a
dozen demure little maids that took her hand a few
steps in turn. She taught the class a song, and since
there was not much to do, in the dearth of what was
needed, they often sang, in their low, plaintive notes,
their eyes fixed upon her in mute adoration.
They called her Mathilda, and she thought it very
But still the Presence weighed upon her with its
crushing, tranquil malevolence, its external signs the
sun, white and ghastly, the mountains, steaming in
mustiness, the fronds of palms, heavy, motionless,
metallic. She felt the weight of it as of some physi
cal thing there upon her breast ; beneath it her sleep
THE CONFLUENCE 303
grew torpid, her gestures languid, her eyelids
drooped heavy upon the unfading blue beneath.
This day the obsession had been more poignant
than ever. For in the morning she had found the
schoolhouse deserted. The cosecha had begun, and
the children had all wandered off early to a big haci
enda ten miles off to pick rice. The hours had
dragged, long as death, empty as Infinity. And now
she leaned, a little limply, at her window, between the
dark behind and the dark before. " Cheer up," she
chirped valiantly, but her heart would not answer.
Then, far down the road, consoling, familiar, she
heard the soft pit-a-pat of hoofs. The sound neared,
swelled, drummed in a crescendo that seemed to beat
in her heart. Detaching itself suddenly from the
shadow, as if of its tenuous substance, there ap
peared the vague form of a man in the saddle, pliant-
waisted, broad-shouldered. A singular panic pos
sessed her ; she drew aside behind the wall and peered,
her hands upon her breast. With a rattle of stone
and a spark the horse stopped there in the darkness
in front. The shadowy rider seemed to turn in the
saddle; she felt his eyes scrutinising the darkened
fa9ade, the lightless windows. She panted. The
horse champed resoundingly ; her lips parted as if to
Then, very distinct in the silence, she heard the
decided whirr of a quirt. The form in the saddle bent
forward; the horse rose in a jump. For a second the
shadow of horse and man rose and fell, then it
plunged into the darkness of which it seemed a part.
The drumming of hoofs sounded down the road, far
ther, fainter, became a mere vibration, ceased.
But she stood there listening long after sound had
died. And when she moved off toward her little cot,
it was very wearily, and upon it she collapsed very
She knew what was the matter with her now. She
was lonely ; God, how lonely !
And thus as a shadow, flitting, mysterious, almost
uncorporeal, she was to know him for a long time.
It might be during the day, at school; her eyes,
straying out of the open door, saw him cross the
plaza to the rapid pace of his bay pony, erect be
neath the leaden downpour of heat, his sombrero firm
down upon his eyes, his waist giving pliantly to the
swing of the saddle. He slid off with what seemed to
her singular speed, like a being unreal, elusive, leg
endary ; he was across the plaza ere her eyes were
fairly fixed upon him, was disappearing along the
palm-lined road into the wilderness, into the bosom
THE CONFLUENCE 305
of the mountain, seeming to await him, dark, brood
ing, inscrutable. And when the red dot of the saddle-
blanket had lost itself into the venomous green of the
distance, she would turn, a little listlessly, to her
" Come, children, we will sing," she would say.
And they sang, in their low, weird voices, their
plaintive modification of some old home song. " How
sadly they sing," she murmured ; " how sad it
Or it would be at night when, standing^ at her
darkened window, she heard the sound of hoofs re
verberated in her heart, and he passed, a mere shadow,
immediately swallowed in the gloom. Sometimes she
remained at the window, peering into the darkness ;
at other times she withdrew in unreasoning timidity
into the farther depths of the sala, and stood there,
panting, till the hoof-beats had sunk into silence.
For a while, with a temerity that seemed to her im
mense, she left her lamp lighted behind her; but
when finally he did come, at the sight of the luminous
circle upon the road he circled wide into the night.
She could divine him there, in the profundity of
gloom ; it seemed to her that he had dismounted, that
he stood long, looking toward her. She trembled
with excitement, keenly aware of her conspicuous-
ness in the light. Then the horse rustled softly
through the high cogon, struck the road again below
the house, galloped off in sudden clatter.
These brusque apparitions left her very lonely.
One day, though, she caught him. Her watch had
run down and as she crossed the plaza to the school-
house, she was aware by the position of the sun that
she was much ahead of the correct time. There was
little about her lone home, however, to call her back;
so she pushed on, a little pale at the thought of the
long day ahead. Then as she was almost at the door,
she started. A bay pony was before her, stamping
but obedient to the long reins dropped Western
fashion to the ground. Its flanks shone like silk, the
long mane fell on both sides of the short curved neck,
the forelock dangled roguishly over the eyes. A red
blanket flamed beneath the saddle.
For a minute she stood still, startled like an elf,
her breath coming swift between her parted lips,
poised in panicky indecision. Then with a lithe reso
lute movement she stepped within.
He was standing in the centre of the room, exam
ining with critical eye the torn roof, the sagging
walls, the earthen floor. When he had become aware
of her presence he merely took off his hat in silent
greeting that held subtle homage. His eyes passed
gravely over her. He should have been pleased in
deed with the tremulous colour of her cheek, the radi-
THE CONFLUENCE 307
ance of her glance. She wore a simple dress of blue
linen with a sailor-blouse whose wide turned-down
collar left a triangle of palpitating whiteness below
the throat ; she was hatless, and her hair lay upon her
head with incredible lightness, like a golden vapour.
A curl of it fell over her eyes, and she drew it back
slowly in a graceful movement of her arm, bare to
the elbow. But even as she gazed up at him, the sus
picion of tenderness in his eye went out abruptly; a
stubborn reservation lowered over them like a curtain.
" You are early," he said.
" Yes," she answered, and the word came like a
sigh. She sat down, a little wearily, upon the only
chair. " Yes," she repeated ; " it s going to be a long
He scanned her with rapid, questioning concern ;
but immediately there returned the rigid reserve that
" I must go," he said decidedly. " I ve a new bar
rio school up there in the bosque."
That was all. He strode across the room to the
door, gathered up the reins, mounted and was off,
leaving her alone in the big empty shed. After a
while she looked up. Far toward the hills a little red
spot was disappearing.
The following day the municipal treasurer came
to her and told her what she should have known be-
fore that the taxes had been collected, and that
there were some thousand pesos disponible for the
pueblo school. So she saw, with an interest that made
the days sweeter, the roof rethatched, the walls bol
stered, a floor of bamboo being laid, and the Chino
carpenter slowly evolving with his rough tools a
dozen rude benches. A few days later an oldish little
mild-eyed man presented himself to her. He told her
that he had been one of Don Francisco s assistants,
and was now to be hers.
This new proof of lofty and patronising care ex
asperated her. She sent the man back with a message
declaring that she needed no assistant.
Two weeks later he was again before her with a
note. With a vague feeling of disappointment she
saw that it was typewritten. It said:
" The Provincial Superintendent has transferred
Abada from my town to yours. I cannot and you
must not disregard the order."
Her cheeks flamed a little when she reflected that
the two weeks passed between the two offers were just
time enough for the exchange of correspondence be
tween Cantalacan and Bacolod.
But she soon found Abada invaluable. He had evi
dently been subjected to a rigid training; naturally
he took upon himself all the smaller troublesome de
tails of her work. Also he knew his own people thor-
THE CONFLUENCE 309
oughly and was precious in lifting for her the uni
form veil of stolidity. And he had ingenuity. He
propounded a plan by which the children came
washed to school; he interested the parents in the
clothing of their offspring, so that now the room
rustled with starch. The rivalry of the town fac
tions he diverted adroitly into a race for the favour
of the Maestra.
After a while, though, she noticed that Abada s
brilliant suggestions came always on Monday morn
ings ; also that on Sundays the little mild man, a
stick in hand, wended his way across the plaza and
then down the road leading to Cantalacan. This
vexed her, and the next propositions of her assistant
were ignominiously rejected. That morning she
mapped out her own course. She planted vines that
with tropical vigour forthwith began to climb the
bare walls. At the windows she hung wonderful or
chids. She draped two American flags in flaming
panoply behind her desk, improvised of dry goods
boxes. The supplies had come from Bacolod (very
strangely, in ox-carts belonging to the municipality
of Cantalacan). The maps upon the walls, the black
boards and charts upon their tripods, the shelves of
books gave to the place an air of study and quiet.
Thanks to Abada s constant visits to parents, his
free use (she did not know that) of Don Francisco s
name, the attendance was rising by leaps and bounds ;
the schoolhouse was full of gentle brown goblins.
Her soul was sweet with the feeling of being loved.
And yet she could not shake the old tyranny. An
emptiness was within her; an emptiness it was, and
yet it weighed like lead. Above, about her, the alien,
incomprehensible Land flamed, fierce, inimical. She
dreamed of grassy meadows beneath apple trees ;
through the flowering branches voices passed, voices
of her own kin and race, sympathetic and intimate.
One day she had an idea that filled her with wild
joy. She would give a dinner and invite Mr. Wilson
and Mr. Tillman.
The invitations were sent and accepted. On Sat
urday she went to the market. She passed amid the
squatting women like a humming bird, flitting hither
and thither, stopping a moment to sip here or there,
then whirring off again with her store. And when she
returned, her tawny parasol tilted back upon her
shoulder in an attitude a little weary, her two boys
behind her bore baskets filled with wonderful and col
oured things. She overhauled her stores and set to
work immediately. A man she sent down to the sea to
fish for her a lapo-lapo. And all day she measured
and mixed and beat and prepared for the morrow.
She was up with the sun the next day, and all morn
ing she flitted about, humming like a bee building its
THE CONFLUENCE 311
honey-home, a white apron pinned to her dress, her
face flushed, her hands floury. At noon Wilson came
in. She greeted him joyously, and then leaving him
with her latest magazine, whirred off again to some
mysterious final crisis in the kitchen.
At one o clock a tao came with a note. Mr. Tillman
was very sorry, but something unexpected and im
perative had called him away. He would not be
Her hands dropped to her sides; a great disap
pointment filled her soul.
She forgot it partly in the performance of her du<
ties as hostess. Abada took the place set for the miss
ing one. Wilson lost his eternal discouragement and
livened in a way that made her glad. Late in the
afternoon he left.
" Lor die, what a little wife she ll make," he mur
mured to himself, riding in the gloaming. " And that
fool Saunders, what s the matter with him, anyway,
leaving her down there so long!"
From which it would appear that Dame Rumour
had not found it imperative to correct her first erro
As for Miss Terrill, her brave " cheer up " checked
her just as she was on the point of idiotically weep
ing over the ruins of a splendid chocolate cake.
The rams began. Seated at her window she would
hear a roaring tattoo in the grove of abaca palms to
the south. The noise neared, rose, thundered. Long,
lithe coconuts began an inexplicable bending to and
fro, their tops circling in trembling descent almost
to earth, then swinging back to the spring of the
bow-tense trunks in a movement exaggerated and
violent like that of some stage tempest. Out of the
grove, beaten, trampled down, there advanced into
the open a black wall of rain, perpendicular from
earth to sky. Ahead of it, dust, twigs, rubbish sud
denly ascended to heaven in rotary spirals ; trees were
flayed of their leaves, roofs blew up like gigantic
bats. Then her own house, strongly built, shook as
with earthquake ; the thatch of the roof sprang vert
ical, like hair that stiffens with fear, and between the
interstices she saw the muddy sky stream by. A pow
der of debris, of dry rot, snowed down upon the table,
the books, the chairs ; little lizards, unperched, struck
the floor with a squeak like that of a mechanical doll,
remained as dead for long minutes, then scampered
across the room and up the walls again ; great black
spiders, centipedes, scorpions fell; sometimes a large
rat. Then the nipa clicked back to position as a box
is shut ; a breathless silence, a heavy immobility petri-
THE CONFLUENCE 313
fied the world. There came three or four detached,
resounding raps upon the roof, and suddenly a furi
ous, roaring beating as of stones coming down, great
stones, chuted in thousands, in millions and the
church, the plaza, the mountain, the whole Land dis
appeared in a yellow swirl of waters. It rained thus
for hours, for days, for weeks. The leaden vault of
the sky seemed irreparably cracked, letting down the
liquid hoardings of ages. It rained, in drops big like
eggs, falling so swiftly that they welded sky to earth
as with iron bars ; it rained, heavily, monotonously,
mournfully. The first wild, triumphant burst over,
the elements seemed to have settled down to their task
with a quiet, brooding patience, an immense persist
ence of unalterable purpose. It seemed that it would
rain thus for years, for ages, for inconceivable aeons.
The world was rain, the future was rain; she lived
in a chaos of water. The whole earth softened, dis
solved; it rolled through eternity, a silent, viscous
ball of ooze spattering the stars. Inside her hut a
musty leprosy crept over things ; her clothes rotted
in her trunk, mushrooms sprang overnight upon her
books ; her very soul, it seemed to her, disintegrated
before this malevolent persistence of elemental pur
pose. A black mournfulness was over her like a veil.
She yet saw him sometimes. Out of the obscure
chaos he emerged, a vague shadow; behind the vit-
31 4 CAYBIGAN
rious sheet of waters he passed, wrapped in a great
cape, erect, immovable upon the horse, struggling
up to its knees in mud, the heavy flaps of his som
brero down over his face, leaving to view but the
hatchet-carved chin. She knew now where he had
been that Sunday. A discharged negro soldier had
been terrorising a little barrio to the south. The
Maestro had ridden there and going directly to the
bully, had disarmed him and ordered him out of
And now, up in the hills, but daily nearer to the
coast towns, a band of tulisanes were committing
depredations. Barrios were burned ; principales sus
pected of giving information to the authorities were
tortured. And it was said that a negro renegade
was the leader of the band.
He was present to her in ways other than these
shadowy apparitions. One day men had placed upon
her nipa roof a sheeting of zinc; she found later
that the material came from the ruined convento of
Cantalacan. She felt about her a fostering care,
immense, enveloping like the Rains, mysterious, im
palpable like them. But it was impersonal, far, cold
like the Justice of God. It left her very lonely.
One morning at sun-up he rode into the pueblo at
the head of a dozen men. By their uniforms, their
rusty Remingtons, she knew them as the municipal
THE CONFLUENCE 315
police of Cantalacan. For a week there had been a
respite of the rains and the roads were fairly firm;
but the outfit came in mud-crusted to the eyes, the
horses staggering and dripping foam. They clattered
rapidly past the house and stopped before the Casa
Popular. The Maestro dismounted, but she noticed
that before he allowed the others to do so, he sent a
man ahead to the outskirts of the pueblo on the side
opposite to that by which they had come ; she could
see him, sharply delineated against the rising sun,
scanning the horizon. The Maestro sprang up the
bamboo steps of the municipal house ; his voice rang
sharp and incisive. There was a running to and fro
of muchachos, and man after man, the town police
assembled. She had noted before their slovenliness,
but now, as they mingled with the men of Cantalacan,
this appeared emphasised. There was something
brisk and efficient about everything that came from
Cantalacan, it seemed. The Maestro reappeared and
mounted. He placed half of his men in the van, the
other half in the rear, the Barang contingent being
framed between, and putting himself at the head
started out of the pueblo by the road opposite to
that by which he had come in. She saw him for a
while, pliant in the saddle, leaning forward, pressing
the pace, the rest of the troop pellmell after him,
rising and falling one after the other, their broad
hats flapping. Suddenly he seemed to go through
the crust of the earth; man after man disappeared
after him; the last laggard dropped out of sight.
They were crossing the river. They reappeared, toil
ing slowly up the farther bank, bunched for a mo
ment, then vanished between the palms.
Toward evening she saw them return. He was not
riding in front. But between the horses, formed in
hollow square, something limp swung from side to
side a litter borne by four men.
What followed came back to her afterward with
strange blending always of vague unreality and glar
Very calmly she went down to the Casa Popular,
before which the calvacade was stopping. On the
ground she saw the litter with its lithe form silhou
etted beneath the blanket. " He is dead," she said
to herself with weird certainty. All about her, men
were talking excitedly ; she did not hear a word, and
yet, later, all that they said came back to her, com
plete to every inflection.
The Maestro had received secret information of an
attack planned by Carr, the negro renegade, upon
Barang; hence the move of the morning. The two
parties had met upon the road; both had taken to
THE CONFLUENCE 317
the ditch and had peppered away at each other for
a while. Then the Maestro, who had kept on his
horse to hold his men better in hand, had been struck
by a chance bullet; the pony, zipped by the same
fire, had thrown him. But as, seizing the opportunity,
Carr charged forward with a yell of triumph, the
prostrate man, raising himself on his elbow with a
last effort, had shot him through the head with his
revolver. This sudden reverse had scattered the out
She did not hear this ; it came back to her later.
She stood very still ; and her heart, with each solemn
beat, said, " He is dead."
A desire came to her to see him once more. She
moved to the litter. She lowered the blanket. Upon
the very white forehead the black hair was matted ;
matted with the toil done for her, in her defense.
She separated the curls between her fingers, smooth
ing them in long caressing movements. And then she
saw stirring between the pale lips the suspicion of
Instantly the dreamy lethargy that enshrouded her
dropped like a cloak ; and she was athrill with a fierce
desire for action. " To my home, quick, quick ! "
she cried to the men. They took up the litter and
started toward the house. But they were inconceiv
ably slow. They jostled him. She pushed one of the
carriers aside and herself took a pole. Finally he
lay upon her little cot.
She tore open the khaki blouse with its spot of
rust above the heart. The blue shirt beneath was
soggy and dripping. With her scissors she cut off
both garments, then washed the bared flesh. But
there was something which would not wash off a
little bluish spot from which, constantly reform
ing, red lines radiated like the cracks of a broken
He opened his eyes just then; they glared wild
for a moment, settled upon her, softened, then with
a sharp intake of breath he was unconscious again.
She noticed that his right shoulder had a strange,
caved-in appearance. She felt the joint lightly. The
shoulder was dislocated.
Her lips tightened. That first must be set, for
from it he suffered. She had heard of it as something
very difficult. She was a girl, weak, lone, ignorant,
and yet it must be done.
She called Vincente and together they tried to
draw the arm back into its socket. It was sickening
work. At every effort the strong shoulder muscles
contracted in reflex resistance, and they were help
less as babes.
She desisted and thought, with an exasperated
concentration of all her faculties. A snatch of chance
THE CONFLUENCE 319
knowledge came back to her. In her trunk she had
a little medicine chest given to her by loving friends
when she had started on her long voyage. She had
laughed at the time; she pounced upon it now like
a wild animal upon food. She looked into it in
anguished questioning. Yes, there it was a phial
She sent Vincente out for Benito. He was a
manangete, and very strong. He came, stood upon
his immense bare feet before her, his straw hat in
his hand, and she looked with thankfulness upon the
bull-like neck, at the arms, bulging in ridges beneath
the camisa. Once she had cared for his sick baby-
girl, and now he adored her.
They moved the cot against three of the roof-
sustaining posts and fastened it tight to them. They
strapped the unconscious man to the cot.
The crucial moment came now. Right here she
might murder him with criminal ignorance. She ac
cepted the hazard.
She uncorked the little bottle, spilled some of its
contents upon a wad of cotton, and applied this to
the pinched nostrils. He struggled; his left arm
tugged at the strap holding it till the muscles were
tense to breaking. She persisted and suddenly his
effort collapsed; with a shuddering sigh his whole
body relaxed liquidly.
She made use of Benito now. At her command he
took between his iron fingers the wounded man s
wrist. She placed her soft hands upon the tao s
corded arms. He tugged; she directed. From her
tapering fingers there flowed into the stolid muscle
of the machine-man a subtle fluid of tender intelli
gence. In the commonness of their work they became
as one: he the body, she the soul. The chloroform
had had its effect ; the shoulder muscle loosened,
elastic, to the steady pull. The arm lengthened, al
most dismeasurably. She panted. Beneath the sug
gestion of her fingers Benito gave a sudden sharp
movement up and to the left. There was a resounding
click and then Benito, Vincente, the man in the cot,
the whole room floated slowly upward, leaving her in
a lone black hole.
But from this weakness she emerged to the urgent
call of what there was yet to do. She wrapped tape
about both shoulders to keep the set member in place.
Then she turned to the wound.
She saw with relief that the stagnant red lake
which had covered it at first had not returned. But
there was still the little blue hole with it s radiation
as of cracked glass. She fingered it lightly. In there
was a bullet, and it must be gotten out.
Pale, with eyes closed, she gently inserted her little
finger into the warm flesh. It was as if she were dig-
ging into her own heart. After a while she felt a
hard, rough-edged object. She gasped in a strange
mingling of physical horror and spiritual ecstasy.
The bullet had sunk a bare inch.
She looked through the chest, but there was nothing
for the necessary extraction. She tried the scissors ;
they slipped and revolved about the leaden slug with
out seizing it. She wrapped twine thick about the
blades. This time they caught. There was a mo
mentary resistance; she tugged firmly, it seemed at
the very core of her being. Slowly at first, then faster,
the distorted bit of lead slid through the flesh, then
popped out and rolled upon the floor. A little ruby
foam came to the surface of the wound.
The whole world floated away gently, except a
Voice, a thundering, all-filling Voice ; " Senora,
Senora," it crashed and reverberated through the
infinity of Time and Space. It fell gradually into a
call, gentle but insistent, that she must obey ; and she
opened her eyes upon the face of Vincente, yellow
with fear ; and it was he that was calling " Senora,
She sprang to her feet at the command of her
purpose. From the torn wound, little red drops were
arising like bubbles one by one the drops of his
life. She dressed the wound carefully. A great
weariness fell about her like a pall; she sat down at
the head of the bed. Something soft and delicious
entered her soul.
She remained there till dawn, a sweet content
singing at her heart. The oppression of Things that
had crushed her for so many months had lifted ;
her being distended in ecstatic repose. He slept, still
in the torpor of exhaustion, calm like a statue;
she watched him, watched the white forehead with
the black curls damp upon it, the eyes, closed in the
shadow of the long lashes ; watched this helplessness
with a gentle feeling of maternal possession. His
features were relaxed in lassitude ; the corners of the
mouth drew down slightly, in an expression a little
tremulous, as that of a child who has cried and is not
yet quite consoled. A great tenderness dissolved her
Toward morning, however, his cheeks flushed dull
red and he began to toss restlessly upon the narrow
couch. She placed her hand upon his forehead and
found it burning. She redressed the wound, placed
fresh bandages about the shoulder ; but the fever
did not abate. All day she fought it, handicapped
by her poverty of means. And then as the sun had set
in black-and-blood-portent and the night fell like a
great velvet cloak from the sky, Fear crept into the
little hut; and all night as she sat there by the cot,
it was at her elbow, spectral, dilated-eyed, and cold.
THE CONFLUENCE 323
He tossed and tossed in convulsive starts till the
cane bed creaked and cried. He muttered incessantly,
words without end, rapid as the tick of a telegraphic
receiver. At times she could understand.
" The silence ! " he would say ; " the silence! "
He stopped a moment, his brows frowned, then
the words came again, slow, as in painful mental
analysis. " Their ways are different," he said; " their
language incomprehensible. It is silence God, what
silence ! "
He rose to a sitting posture and listened long, in
tently. " Nothing," he said, falling back, discour
aged ; " silence," he whispered.
Then, " And the mountain, the musty mountain,
how it weighs ! "
He was quiet for a long while. Then he spoke one
" Lone " and the word drawled like a plaint.
A great wonder possessed her. So he also had felt
what she had felt, had suffered what she had suffered.
Through the armour of efficiency, of alertness, had
penetrated the oppression of the Land. He, the
strong, the vigorous, the self-reliant, had suffered
as she, the weak, lonely girl. She passed her hand
softly over his hot forehead; she bent down in an
impulse to kiss. But he was talking again, one
sentence repeated in swinging sing-song.
" Saunders, Saunders, may he make her happy ;
Saunders, Saunders, may he make her happy." He
fell into a rhythmic beat, like the marching cadence
of a drum. " Saunders, Saunders, may he make her
happy," he repeated, over and over again, in cease
She drew back, afraid. Saunders that was the
young lieutenant at Bacolod. But who was the
mysterious " Her " that out of the mechanical rise
and fall of the sentence rose distinct in an empha
sis of wistful tenderness a sense of profanation
whelmed her; she should not listen to that.
She left the room and went below to rouse Vin-
cente. But he was in the death-like stupor that is
the sleep of the native. She could not wake him, make
him understand what she wanted that he should
watch over his master. She had to go back, and as
she re-entered the room he was still murmuring, but
with slowing cadence, like a clock that runs down :
" Saunders, Saunders, may he make her happy."
When finally the thing had died upon his lips, he
was quiet a long time, and she remained there, listen
ing to the beat of her own heart. The dawn was
entering cracks and windows in grayish humid flow.
She shivered a little; a great discouragement dis
solved her strength. She moved to the window and
looked out upon the misty landscape. After a while
THE CONFLUENCE 325
the sun appeared, a red ball of fire on the top cone
of Canlaon. It rose, freed itself of the enveloping
net of vapour, shone down, white, clear, inexorable ;
the mountain slopes began to steam.
A movement behind her made her turn.
He had risen and was sitting upright, his free
arm raised high toward heaven, and in impassioned
accents he was declaiming :
" Star of my Life," he cried ; " Star of my Life,
cold in the black sky, far, ah, how far! Star of my
Life, in spite of all, in spite of thee, thou art my
Star, my Star ! "
He sank back as if broken with the effort. She
placed her hand upon his brow and beneath it she
felt the heat slowly recede; soon he was sleeping
peacefully like a child.
" Star of my Life ! " she murmured wonderingly.
She was very happy that day. He slept heavily,
broken with fatigue and loss of blood; she hovered
about him like a butterfly, finding a thousand little
precious things to do. In the afternoon she decided
that she must rest. She had improvised with screens
a room in the sala ; but she slept only in snatches.
She woke often with a delicious feeling of duty to
perform; and then she would glide to the door and
from the sill watched him sleeping calmly within.
She was no longer lonely. All night he slept thus;
then, as in the morning she flitted about the room
touching things here and there, suddenly she knew
that he had awakened. She did not turn toward him,
but she could feel his eyes, softly luminous, following
her gravely. She slid out of the room. He had not
But outside the world was dull. She returned. As
she entered, the eyes were still on the door, wistful;
but immediately, like a veil there came over them the
old stubborn reserve.
" I must go," he said. " I suppose ,1 got laid up
in that fool fracas over there. You ve been very good
to me. I must go."
He tried to raise himself; but a gray pallour
sprang to his face. " Sh-sh-sh," she hissed gently.
" You must be a good little boy and do as I say. You
must not move."
A great weariness was upon him; his bones were
as water ; and beneath the soft " sh-sh-sh " this
weakness became a dreamy and very pleasant feeling
indeed. " I ll be a good boy," he murmured obedi
ently. Suddenly she realised that he was very young
after all ; which gave her a very maternal tone as
she said, " Drink this ; it will give you strength."
THE CONFLUENCE 327
The days that followed had a taste of honey. A
dreamy passiveness held him in its thrall and she
was about him always like a sweet despotism.
But slowly, as he grew stronger, came the change
she dreaded. A corselet of reserve drew about him;
the old subtle reservation again veiled his eyes. He
spoke often of going.
On the fourth day the call of a bugle drew her to
the window, and a troop of cavalry was sweeping into
the plaza. At its head was young Saunders. Rumours
of ladrone raids reaching Bacolod had caused the
sending of a detachment ; it was to garrison Barang
She learned this from Saunders ; for he called that
evening and together they sat at the bedside of the
wounded man. She smiled upon the young fellow a
slightly malicious smile, for he seemed very much
consoled indeed. Later, as he left her at the head of
the stairs, he confided that the colonel s niece was
now at the post, and that she was gee! a queen!
" Sure you won t? " he asked in smiling apology.
" Sure I won t," she answered with responsive
gaiety, but reiteration of intention.
" Good-night, little mother," he said.
He came every evening after that, and the man
propped up on the pillows listened with wonder to
their light and impersonal prattle.
The last day came. Early in the morning the
Maestro called Vincente, and with his help put on
the khaki, the leather puttees, the belt with its burden
loose along the thigh. The pony, all saddled, was
standing outside. He meant to slip out unnoticed.
But once in the sala a sudden remorse detained him
in hesitation. For the good of his soul, he knew he
must not see her. And yet, it seemed black ingrati
tude, this sneaking departure. His eyes wandered
over the table with a vague idea of leaving a written
A gliding swish behind him made him turn. She
stood in the frame of the door, looking at him. She
was wrapped in a loose gown, mauve-tinted, that
stopped in a square before reaching the neck. Her
hair fell in two braids behind her, leaving a haze of
gold shimmering before the eyes ; and her eyes shone
through, calm, wondering, and blue. A vestige of
pure, white sleep still hung about her cloyingly, and
she was adorable.
" You are going? " she asked and the words
floated slowly, as if held back by some indefinable
" Yes," he said ; " I must go back."
She stood looking slightly past him at something
very far, into an infinity that was desolate ; her eyes
THE CONFLUENCE 329
" I shall be lonely," she said, impersonally, as if
reading into that distance.
He started a little. After a while he said, hesi
tatingly : " The troop are here now ; the lieu
But she stood there, very still, staring at the
future, stretching long ahead as the past mirrored,
the lone, inexorable future reflecting the lone, hard
past. She moved forward a step, and that step was
" I shall be lonely," she repeated.
A tremulous wonder came into his eyes.
But suddenly she had crumpled upon the long
wicker chair, her face hidden in her arms, and her
shoulders began to rise and fall softly.
He stood there, stupefied, watching the gentle
swell and ebb, and slowly the wonder in his eyes grew
to the light ineffable. He moved forward. He touched
" Girl ! " he said in awed murmur, as if in the hush
of a cathedral, " Girl, can it be ! "
But she remained gently weeping. He took her
arms and raised her slowly; and they stood before
each other, their twined hands hanging loose between
them, their eyes into each other s, gravely reading.
" Girl ! " he said again, and this time the tone
held the ecstasy of revelation.
" Boy ! " she smiled back through the sacred dew
of her tears.
He drew her to him, and she wept upon his shoulder
in sweet abandonment, and his heart swelled within
him in immense tenderness.
" Star of my Life ! " he murmured.
told me the thing himself immedi
ately after it had happened ; and no one has been able
to get a word of it from him since. At the time he
was much overwrought; in fact, to an Anglo-Saxon,
was somewhat of a sight (he has French blood in him,
and it s apt to crop out when he least expects it) ;
but if ever I saw Truth manifested, it was in that
choking, panting, sobbing utterance of the man.
Delaroche was one of the thousand pedagogues
which the American government sent to flood these
benighted isles with the lime light of civilisation. His
post was Cabancalan. You don t know Cabancalan,
do you ? Southern part of Negros, twenty miles from
the mouth of the Hog. I rode through there once
God, a lonely, desolate place! A thousand tumble
down nipa shacks, a crumbling church, musty moun
tains to the east, not a white man within thirty miles,
and the natives themselves away below the average
on the edge of savagery.
Well, Delaroche stood it for six months, then went
daffy and sent for the girl he loved in the States.
And she came, the ten thousand miles, and he met her
in Ilo-Ilo and they were married, and he took her
across on a prao to her new home God !
And then one night, some two months after, she
began to die. " She began to die." That s the way
he told it to me.
As he came back from a ride to one of his barrio
schools he found her weeping, with her face in her
pillow. She gently refused to tell him the reason
(poor little girl, he probably would not have under
stood !) ; but later she was saying small incoherent
things, and then he knew she was in a fever. Then
she began to groan gently with each exhaling breath,
and a great fear started to gnaw at his heart.
It was one of these nights when the heat weighs
upon you like the tomb. The blinds were all raised,
and strange, incongruous insects flopped in and
buzzed about the lamp, while outside the beasts of
humidity vibrated in endless shrill cry; and rhyth-
ming this clamour, to the man watching there, came
that low, gentle groaning. And he feared.
You don t understand. He told me, and I also,
probably, did not understand. She was a gentle, soft
creature, made all for love and sacrifice, and with
something childish in her that drew the hearts of
men in great tenderness. He was a somewhat gloomy
fellow, with great asperities in his character and a
THE CALL 333
flaming will. He craved for sacrifice, and she gave it
all to him, and yet with her little baby ways created
in him the illusion that lie was the protector.
And now, as he sat beneath the oppression of the
heated night, by her side, with that continuous, soft
plaint in his ears, he began to see, he began to
see, ah, many little things that he should have seen,
that he had not seen, that, yes, that he had re
fused to see.
When he would return from his long rides to far
barrios after leaving her all day face to face with the
poignant loneliness of her life, he was wont to pick up
a book and plunge into it for the evening. Several
times he had seen tears come to her eyes as he did this,
and then, with laughing, false, lying surprise, would
ask her what was the matter, at which she smiled and
shook her head gently.
There were many other things like that, but, he
told me, this was the picture which tortured him in
endless repetition that night. He saw himself re
turning from his barrio-ride; he picked up a book
and read, and then tears started in her eyes. At in
tervals he raised the mosquito-bar and looked at her
and spoke to her, a great tenderness in his throat;
but she did not answer, merely lay with her head on
her left arm, and softly with each breath came the
little plaint, patient and submissive, and it tore his
heart. Then he sat down again at his vigil, with a
great muffled fear a-pound in his breast, and then
again he saw the picture: He came back from his
barrio-ride, picked up a book and read, and tears
started in her eyes.
That s how he passed the night. At dawn, a great
longing to do something took hold of him, and, leav
ing her, he went out into the pueblo. There was not
a physician within fifty miles ; it was the rainy season
and each mile was ten. He knew it, yet he searched
madly for what he knew he could not find. Finally
he returned, and as he looked upon her she gripped
his arm. " Don t, don t," she said, and he burst into
tears. She had felt his absence.
Then people, the poor lowly folk of the village,
began to troop in with many " pobrecitas " and
pitying exclamations and rude, naive gifts. Among
them were two little girls who stood awed at the door.
He remembered them. When his wife had first come
and they strolled in the evening together, the little
girls would follow them at a distance; then, encour
aged by her gracious presence, they had come nearer
and nearer night after night, till finally she had
found what they longed for. They wanted to touch
her hand. And after that the husband and the wife
had had to steal out on their evening walks ; for, if
seen by; the little girls, the lady had to give one
THE CALL 335
hand to each, leaving the man to follow behind
They were poor, dirty little things, but when they
stood there, one with a soiled, over-ripe banana, the
other with a tobacco leaf, that they had probably
stolen at the market, he stooped down and kissed
them on the forehead.
Then he padlocked the door to be alone and took
his station by the side of the little cot ; and the morn
ing passed as the night had, and he felt himself
slowly becoming mad. In the afternoon a thought
made his heart thump.
At Sibalay, twenty miles below the mouth of the
Hog, there was then a post of native constabulary,
and once every two months a launch from Ilo-Ilo
came to stock it with provisions. He had made a note
of the dates the boat was to come. He looked among
his papers and found it. It was due that very day.
Since morning, while he sat stupid there, the boat
had been discharging cargo; that very evening it
would leave for Ilo-Ilo, and in Ilo-Ilo there were
Americans, doctors, hospitals, hope!
And there was still a chance. The boat, in its
course back to Ilo-Ilo, must cross the mouth of the
Hog. There might be time to intercept it.
He ran out of the house and down to the river ; and
the best he could find after an hour s search were two
old bancas, mouldy and full of water and each with
an outrigger broken; but he lashed them together,
with the remaining outriggers on the outside. Then
he stormed at the Casa Popular till they gave him the
town prisoners, a villainous six. He then had his wife
carried on her cot to the boat, and they started down
From the beginning everything went wrong. He
had counted upon the swollen river-current ; he found
that the sea tide was on the flood and backing it up.
The impressed prisoners were sullen, and after he
saw that promises of reward had no effect, he made
them work with his revolver at their backs. The river
wound interminably, and then another obstacle con
fronted them. The wind rose, and every time the turn
of the river made it head on, they had to slow up, for
the short, choppy waves dashed into the boats, threat
ening to swamp them. The men grew more defiant,
and once he was obliged to fire over their heads to
keep them at their paddles. Thus they went down
the river, between the high palm-lined banks, the
boats leaking, the tide purring against them, the
men straining, with Fear upon them, and he standing
at the stern, tense as a maniac, feeling Hope slowly
and inexorably slipping from him. And all the time,
from the cot at the bottom of the boat, came the soft,
continuous, patient plaint.
THE CALL 337
When they reached the mouth of the river, the surf
was booming on the bar and they could not cross. It
was dark, and in the distance a red and a green light
were passing slowly.
They paddled back five miles up the river to the
pueblo of Hog and camped in the deserted convent.
Toward midnight, White, the constabulary officer,
came along. He was on his way to Sibalay, but the
mud had killed his horse and he had had to stop.
The two men had a conference. Then White
impressed two carabaos from the presidente and
started off in a drizzling rain. There was an army
wagon, with two American horses, at Sibalay, and he
was going after them. With the wagon, Delaroche
could perhaps make Pulupondan, sixty miles to the
north, and catch the little steamer that plied between
that town and Ilo-Ilo.
All night Delaroche sat by the bed of his wife, in
the big, empty, ruined convent. The rain drummed
fiercely upon the tin roof, giant rats scurried to and
fro in the darkness, and the night long there came
from the cot the desolate plaint. Once, toward
dawn, she started up suddenly and he caught her.
" Laddie, laddie ! " she cried, with a great joy in her
voice as she felt his presence. Then she fell back
into the stupor.
At noon the wagon came, driven by an old army
packer, a long lanky Westerner. The cot was placed
upon it and fastened, and they started. It was in the
midst of the rainy season ; the roads were bottom
less, and progress was fearfully slow. Twice, be
fore reaching Jimamaylan, the wagon dropped
into a hole and could not be budged. The men went
out into the fields and captured carabaos, and after
countless efforts unmired it. At Jimamaylan, fifteen
miles from the start, the horses were so plainly given
out that they had to stop. They passed the night
in the hut of the Presidente. The driver cooked their
food and Delaroche filled the canteens with boiled
water for the morrow, for they were on the edge of
the cholera district. His wife was in the same con
They started early the next morning, but calamities
began to overtake them. They were mired for an hour
soon after the start. Then the tree carried away and
they had to improvise a new one. Near Binalbagan
the off horse dropped, foundered. They stole cara
baos from the fields and went on. Darkness over
took them at Jinagaran, and they had gone only ten
All night long Delaroche listened to the gentle
wail, and by morning it had grown very weak. And
then, as the sun rose a few miles from Jinagaran, she
THE CALL 339
" She died." That s the way he said it.
And the wagon went on with the dead woman, and
Delaroche kneeling with his head on her pillow, close
to hers. And after a while he began calling her, first
softly, with gentle insistence, "Girlie! Girlie!"
Then louder and louder as she did not answer, in a
long, agonised cry, " Girlie ! Girlie ! "
They were going through the cholera district now,
and they passed deserted barrios with great, white
crosses painted across the doors and windows of the
emptied huts; and now and then thin, cadaverous,
weird beings looked at them pass from caved-in eyes,
looked at the labouring, sobbing carabaos ; at the
driver on the seat of the lurching wagon, urging
with cry and gesture ; at the cot, with its rigid form
faintly outlined beneath the blankets, and the man
kneeling by it; and, above the shouts of the driver,
the panting of the animals, the creaking of the
wagon, they heard that great ceaseless agonised cry :
All day, and the next, and the next, they went on
thus, a spectral sight. I asked the driver about it
" Yes," he said. " I kept a-going because I knew
that he just couldn t bury her there. And all that
day and all night, and all the next day and the next
night, and the next and the next he just called her
and called her and called her. I don t want to go
through another thing like that, you can be sure.
And she was dead, sir; she was dead, I tell you."
" But of course, she wasn t, you know she wasn t,"
I said : " You know she must have been alive. What
makes you think she was dead? "
" She was dead, sir," he repeated stubbornly.
And Delaroche, when he told me, that one time his
lips were unsealed in a burst of hysteria, said the
" She was dead, Romer," he said ; " she was dead,
I tell you. But I called her, called her. And I tell
you I called her back. You see, it was impossible; I
couldn t let her go like that. I called her back to me,
called her back, I tell you ! "
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